Title: The Laughterhouse
Author: Paul Cleave
Review: How far would you go to defend your family, specifically your child? I think most of us believe there really isn’t a limit to that response. I entered this book wanting to identify with the bad guy, but ultimately I couldn’t. The question was altered ever so slightly; How far would you go to revenge your child? And in that I found myself parting ways.
What I did like about this book is a realistic presentation of revenge and how empty it can all be. Revenge cannot fix what has happened, it cannot bring someone back, and it will not provide a sense of satisfaction (or rightness in the world) when you are done. In the end it just reduces you to what you despise, you become your perpetrator. Not that forgiveness is easy, but it will afford a happier life in the long run.
Also the author presents a story that demonstrates that there are consequences for every decision we make. Trying to help one may lead to the hurting of another, whether intentional or not those results exists. When Mr. Smart hired the homeless guy to help out at his house he was trying to be a good guy, yet that led to horrific consequences for his daughter Elizabeth. Does he hold some responsibility for what happened? This book presents a scenario in which one man attempts to provide judgment upon those he believes are responsible through these indirect means for the death of his child. But of course that all goes Charlie Fox before he is done.
So while this book asks some very interesting questions it was a little too sensationalist for my personal tastes. In the tradition of most American crime fiction the killer is a little too clever, a little too violent, and the crime is a little too much. Most of the book is focused on the killing of children in front of the father. While I am sure these situations come up in life, it is a far cry from the realistic police procedural I lean towards. It’s as if regular murder isn’t enough, we need to ratchet it up to Saw or Hostel proportions, which seems a little like cheating to me. A good story doesn’t need these elements to work.
A well written, quickly paced novel. Worth the read, especially if you enjoy the more extreme crime fiction featuring (typically a serial killer, but in this case) a spree killer. Unfortunately it was a little too far out of my preferences. NOTE: I did find it clever that if you drop the S from slaughterhouse you get laughterhouse.
Publisher: Published August 21st 2012 by AtriaBooks
Quick Review: 3 1/2stars out of 5-
Why I Read It: Sent by the publisher for review/my favorite genre.
Synopsis: From the internationally bestselling author of Blood Men and Collecting Cooper comes a riveting new thriller about one father’s revenge and another’s fight for survival. Theodore Tate never forgot his first crime scene—ten-year-old Jessica found dead in “the Laughterhouse,” an old abandoned slaughterhouse with the S painted over. The killer was found and arrested. Justice was served. Or was it?
Fifteen years later, a new killer arrives in Christchurch, and he has a list of people who were involved in Jessica’s murder case, one of whom is the unfortunate Dr. Stanton, a man with three young girls. If Tate is going to help them, he has to find the connection between the killer, the Laughterhouse, and the city’s suddenly growing murder rate. And he needs to figure it out fast, because Stanton and his daughters have been kidnapped, and the doctor is being forced to make an impossible decision: which one of his daughters is to die first.
In The Laughterhouse, the city of Christchurch becomes “a modern equivalent of James Ellroy’s Los Angeles of the 1950s, a discordant symphony of violence and human weakness” (Publishers Weekly). Fast-paced, dark, and intensely clever, this exciting thriller represents a brilliant new chapter in the career of a world-class crime writer.
Author Biography: Paul Cleave lives in his home city of Christchurch, where all his novels are set. His books have become international bestsellers, with The Cleaner being the top-selling crime/thriller title for 2007 on amazon.de in Germany.
Cleave has been shortlisted for the Australian Ned Kelly Awards for Crime Writing, and has made The New Zealand Listener 100 Best Books of the Year list several times. Blood Men is his fourth novel, and first to be published in the United States. His fifth novel, Collecting Cooper, was published in the US in July 2011.
In August 2011, Cleave's fourth novel, Blood Men, won the prestigious Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.