cover image The Cleaner

The Cleaner

Paul Cleave, read by Paul Ansdell. Dreamscape Media, , unabridged, 10 CDs, 11.5

This thriller, the first in Cleave’s Christchurch Noir Crime series, debuted in his native New Zealand in 2006, arriving in the U.S. in paperback in 2012 and now, finally, in audio. Posing as though he’s mentally challenged, Joe Middleton is all but invisible to the Christchurch, New Zealand, police detectives whose offices he cleans. The police have no clue that “Slow Joe” is “the Christchurch Carver,” a serial killer whose trail of raped and murdered women they are struggling to follow. When a copycat killer adds a victim to his list, Joe undertakes his own investigation, one that gets sidetracked when a mysterious woman named Melissa gives him a not-quite-fatal taste of his own medicine. Actor Ansdell adds a jaunty, upbeat tone to Joe’s thoughts and words that almost compensates for the crudity and ugliness of his deeds. Melissa sounds, at appropriate times, sophisticated, sexy, and sinister. But once she has her sadistic way with Joe, the act and its horrific, bloody aftermath are described in such gut-wrenching detail and at such length that the audio may become almost as painful for listeners as it is for Joe. An Atria paperback. (Sept.)