Author: Paul Cleave
Title: The Laughterhouse
As I was scanning the C shelf at my library for new authors to try, I spotted this book by Paul Cleave, and another one by Steve Cavanagh called Thirteen, that both looked good. In the end, I went with this one. And it's a very solid read. Set in Christchurch, New Zealand, it centers around Theodore Tate, a former Detective Inspector who'd really like his job back. Only he just spent four months in jail, and he killed someone once. It makes his boss hesitant to hire him back. But when a spree killer murders four people in one night, it's all hands on deck, and Theo gets his badge back. Temporarily. As long as he doesn't screw up again.
The other major player in this book is the killer himself. Caleb Cole has spent the last fifteen years in prison. But he's out now and intent on getting revenge on all those he deems responsible for his daughter's death. He's got a list, and he's working fast. He hopes to finish his murderous plan before the police have time to figure out how all his victims are connected.
Apparently, this is the third book Cleave has written about Theo Tate. And while I wish I'd started with the first book in this series, you don't need to have read the previous two books in order to enjoy this one. It's well-written, and I immediately liked Theo, despite all his flaws. Or maybe because of them.
I have to admit, I didn't love the chapters written from Caleb's POV, mostly because I don't love obsessive characters intent on revenge, even when I can kind of understand why they feel the way they do, but also because I felt like Caleb's chapters slowed down the narrative and overall pacing of the book.
I did appreciate that Cleave's writing never gets too intense or graphic. And I thought all the chapters with Theo and the other detectives working to solve this case were very compelling. Things certainly get messy and complicated. I found myself racing through the last chapters. And that ending! I'm going to have to hurry to the library and check out the fourth book in this series just to find out what happens to Theo next. All in all, I enjoyed this library find.