Paul Cleave – The Quiet People (Upstart, $37.99)
Reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books
In this grisly crime novel, writer Paul Cleave creates two fictional crime writers accused of a crime and asks the question, can crime writers get away with murder? That's a lot of crime. And writers.
Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are commercially successful novelists. They live in a nice area of Christchurch, travel a lot and have a 7-year-old son, Zach, a generally good kid who occasionally flips out with a C.Z.M (crazy Zach moment).
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Cameron has taken Zach to a funfair; he loses sight of his son while distracted and in the process of asking other kids on the bouncy castle where Zach is, knocks one off and terrifies another. A father takes exception and wallops Cameron and the whole thing is recorded, presenting Cameron in a less than favourable light.
Later on that evening, after a C.Z.M, Zach says he's going to run away. Most parents have been through this kind of thing and there are different ways in which to handle it. Cameron goes down the 'calling his bluff', route and tells Zach he'll need to pack his bag and take some food then. Off they all go to bed and, of course, Zach is gone by morning.
As news of the missing child breaks, the media leaps into action, finding clips of Cameron and Lisa talking about how to commit the perfect crime. As parents are treated as suspects in cases such as these, they are hounded and accused. Social media has a field day.
In amongst the plotting of a missing child investigation come all sorts of complications and that's the point of difference in this book. Cameron has several public meltdowns and a subsequent theme is what a person might be capable of when put under pressure or experiencing a unique set of circumstances.
The detective in charge of the investigation, Rebecca Kent, is a worthy adversary but the police don't come out of it well, making assumptions and following red herrings that intrigue the reader and put lives in danger.
Paul Cleave never pulls his punches and when he wants to insert an extra death, an assault, a terrible bit of decision making, he'll go right on and do it. The effect is a cinematic, raging, rollercoaster of a plot with a wry humour and a great deal of violence.
The Quiet People is wildly entertaining and will keep you guessing right to the end.