cover image Joe Victim

Joe Victim

Paul Cleave. Atria, $16 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-1-4516-7797-3

New Zealand author Cleave pulls out all the stops in his seventh Christchurch noir, a sequel to The Cleaner, which revealed that “the Christchurch Carver” was Joe Middleton, a police department janitor. A year after his arrest, Middleton’s incarceration and impending trial have put the issue of capital punishment back on New Zealand’s agenda, just in time for a national election. His female partner-in-crime, Melissa X, whose relationship with him is ambivalent at best, is looking for a gunman to take Middleton out before his day in court. The killer, in turn, is banking on the insanity defense to get him off the hook. And an ex-cop who was responsible for finally catching the Carver is hoping to use his inside knowledge to boost a bogus psychic’s TV show. Cleave juggles all the elements with impressive ease. Darkly humorous references to horrific violence will resonate with Dexter fans. Agent: Jane Gregory, Gregory and Company. (Sept.)