Book Thirty-Four of 2013: JOE VICTIM by Paul Cleave

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The internationally bestselling author of The Laughterhousebrings back one of his most infamous characters, the dreaded Christchurch Carver—but in this darkly fascinating psycho-thriller…he’s the target.Joe Middleton has a lot on his plate, to say the least. Arrested for a whole slew of murders he says he can’t remember, Joe—a.k.a. the Christchurch Carver—has been in jail for the last year awaiting trial, charged with the task of convincing the psychiatrists interviewing him that he wasn’t of sound mind and can’t be blamed for what he did. And, incredibly, that’s the least of his worries.
That’s because there’s no shortage of people who like the idea of seeing Joe dead, some of whom are on the inside with him. On the outside, there’s Melissa, Joe’s accomplice in one of the murders, who plans on shooting him on his way to the courthouse before he gets a chance to start talking. To get himself out of this epic mess, Joe has a desperate plan involving the disgraced ex-detective who put Joe away and a television psychic who’s looking to get rich. It’s a long shot, but it had better work—because the people of New Zealand are voting to bring back the death penalty, and the Christchurch Carver is just the poster boy to make it happen.
An award-winning author, New Zealand-based Paul Cleave is known for blending action, sardonic humor, ingenious plot twists, and dark wit into his novels, all of which are on full display in Joe Victim. This is a masterful example of the crime thriller genre, from an author who has won the admiration of critics, writers, and readers around the world.

I recieved this First Reads Goodreads Giveaway book for an honest review.

I’m apparently not one for thrillers of this kind. I won this book on Goodreads and started reading it as soon as I got it. It’s written in two different style point of views (First when it’s Joe and Third with the other two) with three separate narrators: Joe (“hero”/serial killer), Melissa (Serial Killer and ex-lover), and Schroder (the detective turned TV consultant).

It is well written and the characters are well thought out. I like the fact that Cleave introduces characters from other books into this one. It broadens the world and makes it real. I like the characters and seeing their motivations at work. But, it was morally difficult for me to like Joe. I did and then I didn’t. Granted, it might be because he’s a serial killer and all.

The book is set a year after his arrest and attempted suicide (as seen in THE CLEANER). You see him attempt to work out his insanity plea, talk with psychiatrists, and twist people around every chance he gets. There are times where you can sympathize or laugh at his smartass comments, but I feared really being attached to him knowing his history.

As for the speed of the book, I honestly felt like it was rather slow. The beginning was good and once you get past the middle of the book it gets going. However, there is that annoying lull for about 1/3rd of the book that was difficult to go through. I found myself skimming ahead, something I’m not proud to say.

Because of that, and the fact that I couldn’t get into the characters very well (probably because I neglected to read other books in the same world), I didn’t really care for the book. However, that was a personal issue. It is written well and Cleave does pay attention to detail. I think if I try again, but first reading other books by him, I’d be able to fall in line with other fans by him.

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