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The Laughterhouse (REVIEW)

paul cleave, laughterhouse, book review, online book club
paul cleave, laughterhouse, book review, online book club

Who knew the streets of Christchurch could be so mean?

Kiwi author Paul Cleave (who surely has one of the most genre-appropriate surnames of any writer) trawls familiar territory for The Laughterhouse, his sixth crime thriller that exposes the nasty, noxious side of The Garden City.

Disgraced ex-cop Theodore Tate, the flawed hero of two of Paul’s previous novels, Cemetery Lake and Collecting Cooper, is called in to help lead the investigation into a seemingly random spate of murders.

A retired teacher, a former lawyer, an accountant and a woman who’s been in a coma for years are found sliced and diced in locations throughout the city, all in the space of 24 hours. Added to that, a respected doctor and his three children are missing.

The murderer leaves chilling messages at some of the scenes, written on the foreheads of his victims; it’s as if he wants to be caught – but not before his mission is completed.

Reeling from the death of his daughter and a six-month stint in prison for driving under the influence, Theodore has been forced into becoming a private investigator to make ends meet. He’s more than grateful to be called in to investigate the “Gran Reaper” case, so called because some of the killings took place in rest-homes.

And, as it turns out, he knows more about the case, and the murderer’s motivation, than anyone could have imagined; but can he save the good doctor and his daughters before they too fall under the knife?

The Laughterhouse is better than your average tale of crime and punishment. The writer’s ability to weave humour with suspense gives it a little levity and the characters some likability – just when you thought the world was all bad.

Claire Rorke

**The Laughterhouse


Paul Cleave

Penguin, $38

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