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
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
First published in Murder and Mayhem, July 2008
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