Paul Cleave’s The Killing Hour (2007)–as well as Cemetery Lake (2008)–follows up on his debute in crime fiction, The Cleaner (2006), All three novels are set in his hometown of Christchurch, which Cleave gives a dark sheen and almost character-like presence. They have somewhat overlapping timeframes (and the events in one book occasionally touch another), and some minor characters appear in multiple books, but each is a standalone, focused on the trials and tribulations of a different main character who is facing his own emotional turmoil.
In The Killing Hour, Charlie wakes up, covered in blood, to the news that two woman he was with the night before have been brutally murdered: ‘They come for me as I sleep. Their pale faces stare at me, their soft voices tell me to wake, to wake. They come to remind me of the night, to remind me of what I have done.’ Only Charlie doesn’t know what he has done. His shorts are covered in blood, there’s a bump on his forehead and on the news it says the two young women he was with the night before were brutally murdered. Charlie knows Cyris is the murderer–except the police don’t believe Cyris exists. Nor does Jo, Charlie’s ex-wife, to whom he goes for help. He desperately wants her to believe in him, and when she doesn’t, he knows he must force her. As Charlie goes on the run with Jo bound and gagged in the car boot, he tries to figure out whether Cyris is real or imagined, while the killing hour approaches yet again…A tale as gripping as his first powerful novel, The Cleaner (2006).