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Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave

Five Minutes Alone: A Thriller (Christchurch Noir Crime Series) - Paul Cleave

Note: While this is Book 4 in the series, it works pretty well as a stand alone. There are some reveals about what happened to certain characters in previous books. Also, this series is part of the bigger overall Christchurch murder mysteries, which has intersecting timelines. Have you ever read a headline about some horrible crime and thought, ‘Well, the victim or their loved ones should get five minutes alone with the culprit!’. That’s the central plot to this book. A convicted rapist turns up dead and the Christchurch (New Zealand) cops aren’t too enthusiastic in investigating who might be responsible. Still, they have a job to do. Get ready for an intense cat and mouse game between avenging killer and reluctant yet dedicated detectives. Wow! This book was super intense! I really enjoyed it and it was difficult to put down in order to sleep for a few hours before picking it up again. Theo Tate is back on the force, having been sober for a year. He’s the king of second chances, as some call him. He’s messed up plenty of times and yet he always means well. His new partner is Rebecca Kent, who recently recovered from her own injuries which she received while on duty. They catch the the case involving the recently released convicted rapist and aren’t too excited about it. Meanwhile, Carl Schroeder, who also recently recovered from a serious injury, just isn’t the same. He’s no longer on the force but he’s got his own work keeping him busy. His story arc for this series is the most interesting so far! I’m really impressed with Cleave’s writing on this one! Schroeder was the guy that helped keep Tate on the side of good (most of the time). Now, Schroeder may be the one needing Tate to act the conscience for him. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tate’s wife had a significant role in this book. If you’ve read the earlier books, then you know she has been mostly out of the picture. Now her presence brings Tate both joy and anxiety. I don’t want to say too much because I do my best to avoid spoilers. Just know that Cleave is upping his game by bringing Bridget into the mix. There’s also Warren the spider, a kind of pet to one of the characters. His cheeky remarks provided some humor to this dark and gritty tale. I was a little sad to see that Warren will probably not be in further novels. The plot was intense! I now, I already mentioned that, but I really mean it! There was never a dull moment. As the reader, we know right away who this mysterious avenging killer is. At first, I was rooting for this person, but as the story unfolds, this vigilante makes mistakes and good people start dying. With the first accidental death, I was ready to forgive the vigilante, because, hey, we all make mistakes. But the bodies kept piling up and it became obvious that this type of justice has a cost. Cleave is clever in that he doesn’t stop there. Instead, through these gripping characters, he asks the question of whether this cost is less or more than the cost society and victims pay under the current justice system. The cat and mouse game continues as each of our main detectives have to weigh the answer for themselves. This was an excellent murder mystery turned thriller. I really wasn’t sure where Cleave would take the story on the final stretch. In the end, I was very satisfied, feeling that a kind of justice was meted out while staying true to overall feel of the book. I look forward to seeing what he does next. Theo Tate already needs plenty of therapy. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox. Narration: Paul Ansdell did a pretty good job. His individual voices started off crisp and distinct, though well into the book Tate and Schroeder started to sound the same. From there forward, it was off and on with the clear distinction between these two. However, the text is often very clear about who is talking, so that made it easy for most of the book to keep things straight. Ansdell has believable female voices unless they are sad and anguished. His voice tends to drop several notes when he mimics a woman in deep sorrow or distress. For the purposes of the story, that doesn’t really matter. Ansdell does a great job imbuing the characters with emotion.