Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review: "Five Minutes Alone" (Paul Cleave)

Imagine someone you love very deeply was attacked. Assaulted, raped, tortured, tormented, murdered.

What would you do in response?

How far would you go to exact revenge against the attackers?

Enter the premise for Paul Cleave's Five Minutes Alone, a psychological thriller and an Edgar Award finalist for good reason.

The story takes place six months after the conclusion to Cleave's book Joe Victim. Two characters from that book, Carl Schroder and Theodore (Theo) Tate are different than they were before the events of Joe Victim.

For one thing, Tate is back on the police force, albeit a bit reluctantly, and waiting on his wife Bridget nearly hand and foot, since the car accident that nearly left Tate a widower and left them both childless.

For another, and perhaps more ghoulishly, Schroder is off the police force, having been changed in a firefight by a bullet that remains lodged in his skull, in a place where his emotions once existed. Now, he feels nearly nothing, and doesn't know how to move forward ... until the night he recognizes a convicted rapist, recently released from prison, and follows the man to the home of the rapist's original victim.

In the ensuing aftermath, the rapist is dead, the victim is very much alive, and Schroder finds a new purpose to life. What if he became the person who could grant victims their "five minutes alone" with their attackers?

Meanwhile, Tate, working hard on the increasingly gruesome murders from his angle, has his own struggles to face and skeletons to hide.

Cleave writes in an intriguing style, from one character's viewpoint to another but in a way that increases the tension and reader fascination with the story line. The events never let up: there's always something going on, and a deadline to be met, or someone's life to save. He's also masterful with cliffhangers, making this work a difficult one to put down when you need to be doing something else.

While Tate is a well-rounded character, complete with a past he doesn't want anyone to know about, the revelation of which would even compromise his position in law enforcement, Schroder is the really fascinating person, from his sympathies for the victims of crimes he solved over the years, to his justification for allowing those victims their chance to take revenge on those who irreparably hurt them, to his increasingly warped way of thinking about life and relationships, trust and betrayal.

For a work that fits the cliche "page-turner," look no further than this one.

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Author: Paul Cleave
Title: Five Minutes Alone
ISBN: 978-1-4767-7915-7
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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