Brett Battles






Random House, 2007
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith


In his line of work Jonathan Quinn does a lot of travelling. He’s a cleaner, usually hired to clean up messes others have left behind, inconvenient traces that may incriminate. He thinks of himself as a “dry cleaner”. He removes bodies but is rarely called upon to initiate violence himself. All that is about to change. This time he has been sent to find out first hand what caused the death of a tourist in a farmhouse fire just out of Denver, Colorado.

Quinn quickly concludes this fire was no accident, and the victim no tourist. Things just don’t jell. The farmhouse is isolated but there is no indication of how the victim got there. He realises the body in the farmhouse is meant to be seen as a warning but for whom? And why?

Just as he himself was once an apprentice in the cleaning business, so Quinn is now training a young man. Nate has a lot to learn – he is overeager, a little raw, but he is learning fast. There are times, though, when thinking for both himself and Nate is a real handicap.

When a fellow cleaner attempts to assassinate Quinn he realises that somehow what he has found out about the farmhouse body has put him on a hit list. Both he and Nate are in danger. Quinn’s quest to find out what is going on takes them from Los Angeles, via Vietnam, to Berlin, uncovering a threat that not only challenges the Office for whom Quinn works, but the very safety of the human race. The closer he gets to uncovering the secret, the more dangerous it becomes for himself and those he contacts.

THE CLEANER is a fast moving thriller, in a style made popular by Alistair Maclean, Jack Higgins, Hammond Innes, and more recently Matthew Reilly. Not really my favourite genre, the story at times strained the bounds of credibility. Nevertheless the plotting is tight, the tension sustained, and the central scenario believable.

This is a strong debut novel, followed up recently by a second in the series, THE DECEIVED. An American by birth, Brett Battles lives in California.

First published in Murder and Mayhem, July 2008


home      back

All cover art used at Reviewer's Choice Reviews is copyrighted by the respective publisher. All reviews and articles found at Reviewer's Choice Reviews are the sole property of the contributor and are copyrighted by the same.