Paul Cleave, or a pro's prose
That's not the freshest recipe in the crime fiction cookbook, which is one reason I'm so impressed that the novel has held my attention so far. The book is (a back-cover blurb tells me) one of revenge, survival, and impossible choices. But the story lies in the rhythm of Cleave's sentences: short and choppy with occasional longer outbursts, as if the narrator suddenly found himself too tired to stop thinking, for chapters told in first person by the indeed occasionally exhausted detective; short, choppy, with the added distance of third-person narration for the killer's chapters.
Crime novels where the rhythm of the prose tells the story always remind me of David Peace, and so this one does. The related but distinct rhythms of the detective's and the killer's chapters do at least as much as any plot element to suggest a kinship between the two, and my only complaint through the first eleven chapters of The Laughterhouse is that Cleave uses reference as a verb (on page 54).
Read more about Paul Cleave at his Web site and about New Zealand crime fiction at Crime Watch.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012