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This is the 7th book Cleave has written featuring Christchurch, New Zealand detective Theodore Tate. It is absorbing, filled with constant action, and touches on the psychological need of families of crime victim’s desires for revenge. A common thread among people affected by criminal acts perpetrated against their loved ones is “Just give me five minutes alone with the animal that did this” Paul Cleave sets up a series of crimes orchestrated to grant just that wish for people whose families have been touched by a crime against one of their own.

Tate has had his five minutes in a previous book. A drunk driver killed his daughter in an auto accident, and Tate takes it upon himself to march the perpetrator into a wooded area and kill him. The first incident in this book involves a rapist let out of prison early for good behavior, spotting his victim and returning to her house. He is stopped and the victim is allowed to exact her five minutes. Tate is assigned the case when the body is discovered on a railroad track crushed by a train. He questions the lady that was raped, and determines that she didn’t do it. Than several other “victims” are helped to get their five minutes by person or persons unknown.

The feelings of the people helped to exact their revenge is a most important part of the story. Is it that easy to go ahead, get revenge and continue on with your life knowing that you have committed a crime even if in revenge for one committed against you? Cleave leaves us with very logical and assorted psychological reactions to that question. Early on the identify of the individual guiding those victims to revenge is revealed, and this factor helps the reader in understanding the various emotions rather than spoiling the narrative.

Excellent choice of theme and description of the psychology going into the actions. Tate, the principal protagonist, is very well fleshed out, with his actions and thoughts extremely logical and fitting his character with both his flaws and attributes brought out. I am certainly looking forward to reading more novels by Paul Cleave.

10/14 Paul Lane

FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave. Atria Books (October 21, 2014). ISBN: 978-1476779157. 464p.

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