Wednesday, September 4, 2013

#BookReview: Joe Victim by Paul Cleave

Slow Joe, the Verbal Kint of Christchurch, New Zealand, is back.  Readers of last year's book, The Cleaner , will remember how delusional and psychotic Joe was.  After embarking on a four year killing spree, in which no one guesses that Joe is the actual killer, he is finally caught.  Now in prison awaiting trial, Joe is still trying to convince everyone that he's either slow, doesn't remember what happened or both.  And at times, one almost believes him.

Joe spends much of his time trying to avoid the guards who take pleasure in torturing him.  When he's not doing that, he fantasizes about Melissa rescuing him.  Still, a good portion of his time is spent with psychiatrists wanting to learn the root cause of why Joe has turned out the way he has.

It's interesting to delve into Joe's past and find out what makes him tick and why.  It seems that he's always been a bit of a psychopath, but it was triggered and magnified by interactions with certain family members.  After reading about his life, you have to wonder why he didn't cross over to the dark side even earlier.

Melissa, his co-conspirator and girlfriend, is back for another round and proves to be just as smart, if not smarter, as Joe.  She's determined to get Joe out of jail, but the reader is confused as to whether it's to kill him or to keep him safe.  Either way, watching her work is enjoyable.

I would say the book is evenly split between telling Joe's story and Melissa's and they're equally interesting.  At 496 pages, Joe Victim runs long and there are some parts of the book I could completely do without. For that reason, I gave it four purple armchairs instead of five. But as always, Paul Cleave lets the reader think they know what's about to happen, then he totally flips the script and leaves you dazed, doing what he does best.

Published: September 2013
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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