cover image The Laughterhouse

The Laughterhouse

Paul Cleave. Atria, $15 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7795-9

A brutal sadist stalks Christchurch, New Zealand, in Cleave’s compelling third noir thriller featuring PI Theo Tate (after 2011’s Collecting Cooper). The down-and-out Tate, a former cop who yearns to return to the police force, remains haunted by a case he investigated 15 years earlier—the rape and murder of a girl in an abandoned slaughterhouse, whose defaced sign gives the novel its horrifyingly ironic title. When a “spree killer” strikes one victim after another in an appalling day of terror, then kidnaps and unspeakably tortures a physician and his three young daughters, Tate and his former police partner, Carl Schroder, who’s burning out just as Tate’s finding his emotional footing again, gradually untangle the killer’s demented motives. Piano wire–taut plotting, Tate’s heart-wrenching losses and forlorn hopes, and Cleave’s unusually perceptive gaze into the maw of a killer’s madness make this a standout chapter in his detective’s rocky road to redemption. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory and Company. (Aug. 21)