I'm starting to really like Paul Cleave's novels, this is the third that of the Christchurch novels that I've read. Although there is a common story thread that runs through them, particularly ones such as Five Minutes Alone, that feature Theodore Tate, they also work well in their own right.
The books are all set in Christchurch, although in many ways this is a fantasy Christchurch or one in a parallel universe with a darker and more sinister feel than the 'real' Christchurch. The New Zealand in the book is also a fantasy version of New Zealand; a referendum having reintroduced the death penalty.
Into this dark world, we are reintroduced to two characters who have featured in a number of the previous books, Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate.
What I particularly love about Cleaves books is the ambiguity, in so many stories, both those that are crime novels, and those that have other main themes, we have a hero and an adversary. Good and bad fight it out. Of course life is not so clear cut and certainly Cleave's novels and characters are not so black and white. This is especially obvious in Five Minutes Alone, the question of who is good and who is bad is not clear cut one. Rather than a fight between good and evil it's a fight between the really evil and the not quite so bad.
The story focuses a lot on revenge, unlike many in the crime novel genre there isn't a question of who-done-it, more a focus on why, and if that reasoning is at all justified. I found myself rooting for different characters at different times and questioning things all the way through.
The story is cleaver and well written, without trying to be too cleaver. I enjoyed it and really must track down some more of Cleave's books.