Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review of Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave (2008, Arrow)

Theodore Tate used to be a police detective, but after the death of his daughter and injuring of his wife at the hands of drunk driver, he left the force. At the same time, the perpetrator of his family tragedy disappeared. Two years later he is working as a private investigator. His latest case has him visiting a cemetery for the exhumation of a suspected murder victim. As the coffin is unearthed, three bodies rise in the bordering lake. In the coffin is a young woman rather than a middle-aged bank manager. Rather than simply let his former colleagues investigate, Tate decides to steal evidence and run his own inquiry. His hunch is that there are other women occupying other peoples' final resting places and others might be destined to join them. Defying just about everybody connected to the case, and making a series of poor choices, Tate carries on regardless convinced that he can catch the killer before anyone else can.

Cemetery Lake is a serial killer/private investigator tale set in Christchurch in New Zealand. As is the common trope for PIs, Tate is down on his luck, a former policeman whose wife was left in a vegetative state and daughter killed by a drunk driver. He stumbles onto the work of a serial killer at an exhumation when the wrong body is in the coffin and people formerly buried are found in a lake. His need for justice sets him off in pursuit even though his former police colleagues want him to stand down. Cleave's tale charts his dogged, destructive track. Told in the first person, the narrative is engaging and compelling, even while the tale itself is somewhat of a stretch to believe. Cleave keeps the pace high, with plenty of action, intrigue, and twists and turns. It barrels along to a climatic denouement, but ends somewhat on a cliff-edge rather than rounding things out. Overall, a break-neck serial killer tale full of the usual tropes and sliding towards outlandish at times, held together by being a page-turner with an interesting enough lead character

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