The Killing Hour

All bets are off when it comes to Mr. Cleave and murder! Cleave’s writing style improves with each story he crafts. While this is an earlier Cleave work, it is still an unforgettable tale of murder and mayhem. This story starts with guilt and confusion before it ends in comprehension and understanding; and this is how Cleave ensnarls the reader: it’s not just the question of who is the killer but also if Charlie is the murderer that needs to be answered. And the tension continues to build from the first chapter to the end.

Charlie Feldman isn’t having a good day when he wakes from a guilty sleep, hours late for classes, and trying to figure out how to talk to his ex: Jo. All day he sees the faces of two women on TV and in print; he knows these women are missing and possibly dead, and it would be his fault. Charlie tries to tell Jo his story, but she is doubtful of his incredible tale.

Meanwhile Tom Landry, a detective who is hiding he has less six than months to live, is scratching for clues of who tortured and murdered two women by driving metal spikes into their hearts. He is convinced Charlie killed these women; all Tom has to do is take the evidence and figure out how to connect Charlie to these murders. Tom is driven to prove Charlie committed these murders; Charlie is driven to prove his innocence; all this happens while the “murderer” toys with Charlie, Tom, and two women (one of whom is Jo).

This is a complex novel of cat and mouse within a couple of cat and mouse games. At times the descriptive passages are intense, which fuel the action to a fever-pitch. In the end however, it is Cleave playing cat and mouse with the reader.

Book Blurb for The Killing Hour

Imagine waking up covered in blood—but it’s not your blood. There’s a nasty bump on your head, and you can’t remember a thing about last night. The morning paper reports that two young women were brutally murdered. You recognize their names. Pieces of the night before come back to you through the haze. And now you’re the suspect in their grisly deaths. Welcome to Charlie’s world.

In this heart-pounding thriller, only the dead know what happened last night. On the run, Charlie suspects a man named Cyris, but no one believes that Cyris exists. Not the police and not Charlie’s ex-wife Jo, though she wants to trust that the man she once loved is innocent. Soon, Charlie has Jo bound and gagged in the trunk of his car, fleeing across the countryside while the killing hour approaches yet again.

Originally published in 2007 in Cleave’s native New Zealand, The Killing Hour represents the early, “pulse-pounding” (Publishers Weekly) work of a writer known the world over for a style that combines gruesome thrills with clever twists and a heavy dose of devilish humor. Cleave keeps us guessing until the last page of this fantastic psychological thriller.

Night Owl Reviews May, 2013 3.50