In Five Minutes Alone (2014 Atria Books) another in Paul Cleave’s Christchurch detective saga that moves around the figures of Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder, Cleave pulls together all the threads that have any connection to his three previous works. Five Minutes Alone is both a well-known song by the Heavy Metal Band Pantera (1994) but also a phrase with which many people are familiar in certain circumstances. In moments of extreme anger, anguish or when confronted by a terrible crime, a victim’s relative or friend will often say something like “If only I could have five minutes alone with him/her” evidently a reference to exacting some kind of revenge.
Christchurch is the site of what seem to be revenge killings and both Theodore Tate and ex-detective Carl Schroder, who has been invalided out of the force with a bullet dangerously lodged in his head, find themselves embroiled in the crimes. Yet again Cleave reveals the hegemony of the status quo that is: white. Christchurch is often referred to as the most European city in New Zealand with the smallest number of Maoris or non-European migrants in its social structure. However, both are present within the reality of the city but Paul Cleave, yet again, fails to focus on them, however briefly, thus reinforcing the presence of Whiteness and white power, a criticism rarely made, if ever, regarding Cleave’s work.