Review: Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave


Title: Five Minutes Alone { Theodore Tate #4}

Author: Paul Cleave

Published: Atria Books October 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from October 23 to 28, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Five Minutes Alone is the fourth book in Paul Cleave’s crime thriller series set in New Zealand, featuring private detective turned police officer, Theodore Tate.

I didn’t realise when I chose to read Five Minutes Alone that it was fourth in the series, I was simply intrigued by the synopsis. Six months previously, Detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder were badly injured in a confrontation with a serial killer. Now, while Theodore has all but recovered and is back on the force, Carl, fired for his role in the case, is left with a bullet in his brain and a death sentence hanging over his head.
When a newly paroled rapist is found, in pieces, along the railway tracks, Theodore is happy to dismiss the case as ‘suicide by train’ but a post mortem proves the man was already dead. Just a day later the bodies of two more rapists are discovered at an abandoned asylum along with the husband of their victim and it becomes obvious there is a vigilante hunting these criminals and giving their victims the chance for ‘five minutes alone’ to extract their revenge.
Personally Tate would be happy to let the anonymous killer continue, he knows better than most how consuming the need for retribution can be, but as a police officer he has no choice but to investigate the crimes, even if they lead him to his old partner’s door step.

Tate is caught between his professional and complicated personal life in Five Minutes Alone. As he investigates the vigilante, he has to re examine the decision he made when his daughter was killed by a drink driver. Meanwhile his wife, severely injured in the same incident, is struggling with her recovery and inadvertently places Tate in a difficult situation.

As the identity of the killer is known fairly quickly the suspense in the novel stems largely from his confrontations with his victims and his attempts to evade the law. Due to Carl’s brain injury he makes a lot of mistakes in the commission of his crimes which leads to some black humoured slapstick and violent scenes.

The central question of the novel, is Carl a good guy or a bad guy? Cleave explores the grey areas between justice, law and vengeance in a manner that is exaggerated, but with a pointed edge. It is difficult to begrudge victims their desire for their ‘five minutes alone’ when, as Carl points out, the perpetrators go on to live their lives after destroying so many others. Yet it isn’t that simple and all of Carl’s ‘good deeds’ have unintended consequences. Playing out in the background of the story is the vote for reinstating the death penalty in New Zealand.

From what I can tell, this book also ties in with Cleave’s The Cleaner series, I think I probably would have found Five Minutes Alone more compelling had I been familiar with the characters. The pace felt a little uneven but it was a fairly quick read and I enjoyed the mix of action, suspense and drama.

Five Minutes Alone is available to purchase from

Simon&Schuster I Amazon US I BookDepository I Indiebound

via Booko


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