The Pain Tourist, Paul Cleave

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

Paul Cleave is an absolute master of the art of the expected unexpected, especially when Theodore Tate pops up. On the expected front you know that things are going to get messy weird, and you know that Tate is going to go out of his way to try to do right by victims, regardless of the personal cost. You also know that the unexpected will occur, and what ever paranormal or slightly off centre goings on are presented, you're going to stay with it, even if, as a reader like me you'd swear black and blue that paranormal is not your thing. I mean I still maintain it isn't, with the proviso added "unless it's a Paul Cleave paranormal thing", in which case I'm in. Big time.

THE PAIN TOURIST starts out with a shocking home invasion during which eleven-year-old James Garrett finds his parents begging for their lives, turning immediately to helping his older sister Hazel escape, he doesn't make it out himself. After witnessing his parent's execution, he's shot, the murderers escape, and James is left in a deep coma for nine years, watched over the whole time by Hazel. By the time that James does unexpectedly awake from that coma, Theodore Tate has retired from the police force, haunted always by his failure to solve the case of brutal attack on the Garrett family. When DI Rebecca Kent is tasked with re-investigating and hopefully closing the case all those years later, she finds herself turning to Tate, for his experience and knowledge, but also because things have gotten complicated.

James has woken, but it's very weird. He has lived a whole other life during his coma, and he knows things that he simply could not know - things that have happened since the attack, part of the "Coma-Life" he built himself. He is also immediately under threat, targeted by the men who killed his parents. As if Kent doesn't have enough on her plate, there is also somebody impersonating the notorious serial killer Joe Middleton. Somebody they are referring to as Copy Joe, somebody who, as far as James is concerned, is not the only serial killer in Christchurch.

If you're new to the Theodore Tate novels by Paul Cleave then getting a handle on him, the past and, in particular, the story of Joe Middleton might be a bit of heavy lifting. Fans of this series though will be excused for seeing the possibility of a glimmer of a hope of another instalment. Perhaps. Please. If it wouldn't be too much to ask for, soonish would be appreciated. Tate is one of those wonderful, flawed, conflicted, tricky characters that many readers will have developed a real affinity for. In an interesting touch, there is much about THE PAIN TOURIST that is sad, reflecting so much of Tate's own demeanour throughout what is an unexpectedly reflective novel, full of sadness and hope. Some unexpectedly hopeful moments in the story of James and Hazel Garrett and Tate and Rebecca Kent it has to be said. Wrapped up in a fast paced, highly unusual, as expected, thriller from an absolute master of the art. 

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A young man wakes from a coma to find himself targeted by the men who killed his parents, while someone is impersonating a notorious New Zealand serial killer … the latest chilling, nerve-shredding, twisty thriller from the author of The Quiet People…

James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.

But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help … especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…

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