The Cleaner

A Thriller

The Cleaner

An international bestseller and one of the top-selling novels in New Zealand’s history, Paul Cleave’s dark thriller is a brilliant, bloody masterpiece.

Joe is in control of everything in his simple life—both his day job as a janitor for the police department and his “night work.” He isn’t bothered by the daily news reports of the Christchurch Carver, who, they say, has murdered seven women. Joe knows, though, that the Carver killed only six. He knows that for a fact, and he’s determined to find the copycat. He’ll punish him for the one, then frame him for the other six. It’s the perfect plan because he already knows he can outwit the police.

All he needs now is to take care of all the women who keep getting in his way, including his odd, overprotective mother and Sally, the maintenance worker who sees him as a replacement for her dead brother. Then there’s the mysterious Melissa, the only woman to have ever understood him, but whose fantasies of blackmail and torture don't have a place in Joe’s investigation.

Originally published in 2006 in Cleave’s native New Zealand, where it was a finalist for the prestigious Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction, The Cleaner is a chilling and darkly funny thriller that will leave you clamoring for his next.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451677799 | 
  • December 2012
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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Etinosa Agbonlahor

Local media in Christchurch, New Zealand, are obsessively covering the story of the “Christchurch Carver,” a serial killer who has gruesomely killed seven women. Joe, a cleaner at the police department in Christchurch, knows the police are wrong....

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About the Author

Paul Cleave
Photograph by Martin Hunter

Paul Cleave

Paul Cleave is the internationally bestselling author of ten award-winning crime thrillers, including Joe Victim, which was a finalist for the 2014 Edgar and Barry Awards, Trust No one and Five minutes Alone, which won consecutive Ngaio Marsh awards in 2015 and 2016. He lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Visit his website at