The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

From the PR: “Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying
to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep you guessing until the final page”

Okay, so we all know the adage that you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover – a thoroughly bogus claim anyway – but it would be remiss of me to even think of reviewing Paul Cleave’s The Quiet People without mentioning how bloody awesome its cover art is. It’s also a pretty cracking proposition; many is the time I’ve mentioned that I wouldn’t like to play chess with a few crime writers given how many moves ahead they seem to think. Of course there are also some where you have to wonder if they need to lie back on a couch and talk to someone at a large hourly rate. Obviously reality and a controlled, fictional world over which a writer reigns omnipotent are two different things, but could someone who spends their time coming up with tricky, hard to solve murders, actually get away with murder?

Which leads us to another question, the gist of this review; does Paul Cleave’s The Quiet People deliver on that premise? Does a cracking cover design grace a cracking novel? Oh hell yes.

Paul Cleave has delivered a novel that ‘gripping’ doesn’t do justice to. He kicks it off strong: getting the tension going with a chill-inducing prologue then darts into an equally nerve-wracking scenario as Cameron loses track of his son Zach at a fair. He doesn’t let off that hammer throughout – there’s no way of saying ‘just one more chapter’ with this bad boy, it’s intense in a delicious way.

As a parent of a seven year old son, I found this to have a whole lot of edge-of-the-seat moments and tore through with baited breath just hoping…. but then I can’t talk too much about plot because I don’t want to give this away – I’ve made enough ‘Bruce Willis was dead the whole time’ comments in these reviews. Without trotting out that chess metaphor for the second time in one review, I will say that Paul Cleave has crafted a brilliantly plotted and paced story here with some real vivid scenes. It has the expected twists and turns of a great thriller and a conclusion that might just floor you and it’s told with a masterful narrative and style and, yes, you may wonder if Paul Cleave might be capable of pulling of an unsolvable crime himself it’s so fiendishly clever in its storyline.

The characters push the tension along and Cleave paints them both fully and complex. There’s a real joy to be had seeing how they interact – particularly Cameron and Lisa – as the plot unfolds and the nuances in their behaviour sneak out and cracks appear, the same of which can be applied when the narrative switches to DI Rebecca Kent and her relationship with DI Ben Thompson. The narrative switch, and getting an alternative view of Cameron and his wife to that presented by his narrative is another brilliant element of Cleave’s craft.

Cleave’s prose is precise and wielded like only an expert can. He keeps it taught, powerful and it packs a sharp punch. Ridiculously compelling, tightly plotted and massively rewarding; The Quiet People is another shot of the bloody good stuff from Orenda Books.

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me to review as part of the blogtour.

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