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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Pain Tourist

ISBN: 978-1914585487

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication Date:11/10/2022

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars ++ (ARC)

A young man wakes from a coma to find himself targeted by the men who killed his parents, while someone is impersonating a notorious New Zealand serial killer... the latest chilling, nerve-shredding, twisty thriller from the author of The Quiet People...

James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents' execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now-retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.

But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe; a murderer on a spree, who's imitating Christchurch's most notorious serial killer & she's going to need Tate's help ... especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn't possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn't the only serial killer in town...

About the Author

Paul is an award-winning and internationally bestselling author of thirteen novels, who often divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He’s won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. HIs books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his Frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.

The critically acclaimed The Quiet People was published in 2021, and The Pain Tourist, to be released on Nov. 10, 2022.

Connect with Paul

Paul Cleave Books

Q&A Elevator Ride with

award-winning internationally bestselling author Paul Cleave


Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.


"Behind the Book"

Welcome to the November #AuthorElevatorSeries —where we go behind the scenes of the book and the author. We are super excited to have with us for the first time, one of my favorite New Zealand authors— the award-winning bestselling author and “king” of crime thrillers, Paul Cleave, and his highly anticipated latest novel, THE PAIN TOURIST. Let’s dive in.

Welcome, Paul!

Q. Paul, congratulations on the upcoming TV adaptation of your debut novel, The Cleaner (called Dark City), a six-part television drama expected to film in Christchurch early next year. Please do tell us more!

PAUL: I’m really excited about the show, but to be honest, it still hasn’t quite sunk in that filming is only a couple of months away. Pre-production has begun, and the sets are being built. I’ve worked with two very experienced TV writers, and we story- lined the entire thing together, and we all wrote two episodes each – I got the pilot, and the finale – and we’ve all given feedback on each of the scripts. But what else can I tell you? Sadly, very little at this point – but our hope is this will lead into future seasons.

Q. In addition, in THE PAIN TOURIST, you are juggling multi-storylines, and one being a TV show based on The Cleaner and Copy Joe. How much fun was that include into the book along with appearances of characters from past books (we all love)?

PAUL: It was one of those books where I got to throw a lot of the ‘past’ into it, and bring back characters who should have been back ages ago… and would have been, except I did a bunch of standalones. Joe is really only in it by mention, but it was great bringing Tate back. I always have fun with these guys. And of course Kent too – she’s almost becoming my go-to character these days.

Q. Your book title, THE PAIN TOURIST. Could you share with our readers the meaning?

PAUL: It’s a phrase one of the characters comes up with, when he’s describing certain people’s fascination with true-crime – in the sense that it seems like every second show added to Netflix is about a real life person who was murdered, or how many podcasts are dedicated to the same – or how many reality TV shows revolve around the worst that people have gone though. He’s saying that society is hooked on the pain of others, fascinated by it, and when the fascination isn’t enough for some, they have to go a step further…

Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?

PAUL: It was a news story I saw years ago, about a guy who basically had created an entire world inside his head – a world that was so real he could dip in and out of it at will. He could detail everything going on in such a way that the world seemed real. That’s the premise for The Pain Tourist – as the main character, James, who is in a coma, creates a similar world – but when James wakes up his Coma World collides with the Real World.

Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: In THE PAIN TOURIST —your favorite character to write, and/or most challenging?

PAUL: Tate is always challenging, as there are time line issues. At the end of his last book, we learn he’s going to be a dad. But that last book was 2014. But what I’ve always done is set the books one after the other, with only a real sense of passing seasons, not years, which means even though his book is 8 years later, it still only takes place months later. But it means you have to keep an awareness of the other books and their timelines if you’re bringing back other characters too – like Kent, for example, who was in last years’ book.

Another difficulty is remembering exactly what I’ve said about him in the past – and often you have to hunt through the books looking for things in case you tell the same thing but differently – for example, with his last book I started telling a story about how he met his wife, only to suddenly have the thought ‘I think I’ve told this story before’, which I had, only the two stories were different. Thankfully I realized, otherwise he would have met his wife for the first time two different ways. Readers would hate that.

Q. WRITING: Do you have a favorite chapter or scene in the novel you enjoyed writing the most?

PAUL: I love getting to that halfway point in a book where I’ll have a large scene where lives are in danger all over the place, then coming down from that before cranking up the tension again for the final.

Q. TOPICS: Name 1-3 topics or themes addressed in the novel?

PAUL: Social media – that was a big topic in the last book, and is a topic in this one too – that, combined with people’s interest in the case, along with them being polarized as to what they believe. Hazel, James’s sister, sums it up at one point where she says - These days proof is subjective. Proof is what you want it to be. Half the population will believe and sympathise with James, and the other half will accuse him of making it up for the publicity, and then there’ll be some who will argue James was never shot to begin with, while others will say he deserved it.

I actually believe that in James’s situation, all of that would be true.

"Behind the Author"

BIRTH STATE? or (Country)

New Zealand – land of the hobbits. Though I’m South Island – in Christchurch.


Oh geez… that’s tough. I guess the one thing I notice the most after coming home from another country is the traffic. Pretty much it’ll take me only 10-20 minutes to get to most places here, where as overseas it’ll take two or three times that.


Thai Food. I’m actually a sucker for Coke – I drink too much of it, but if we’re talking alcoholic, then it’s G&Ts all the way…


Night. I’m usually up to 1 or 2am watching horror movies.


Cats. I have two. They’re lucky I haven’t raffled them off because they can be a real pain sometimes.


Throwing a frisbee in a country I’m visiting for the first time.


Live music. I pretty much listen to live concerts twelve hours a day. Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Elton John… you get the idea.


Steve Martin.


I know a bunch of pretty cool card tricks, and I can solve a Rubik’s cube – though it does take me two minutes.

FAVORITE TV SERIES? (Or Movie/Video) binge-watch, series, etc.?

Seinfeld, or Arrested Development – I can’t decide which…


4. An Exotic Tropical Island

Tropical Island. I love beaches, and I love ocean views.


1. Do you immediately get out of bed or stop what you are doing and start typing? Totally immersed

2. Make a few quick notes on a pad or device?

3. Save it for later when you are at your desk or office during your regular working hours?

I’ve done all three in the past. One is rare, two is common, and three… I’ve learned not to skip step two, otherwise you can forget that idea by the time you get around to working.


My office at home, where I have Star Trek posters on the walls, my stereo up loud, and all day sunshine.


I just read The Hate U Give. It’s brilliant, and I think people really should read it.


A Star Trek Funko Pop figure – it’s Captain Kirk and Spock – the scene from Wrath of Khan where Spock is dying, and him and Kirk are either side of the Perspex wall.


The Thing.


Wrap paint brushes / rollers in a plastic bag when you’re done for the day rather than rinsing them – they’ll be good for the next day (for water-based paints that is).


Introvert in real live, extrovert when I’m on stage talking about the books.


Tiling my bathroom. I’m doing a full renovation on two bathrooms.


Becoming friends with some of my favourite authors.

THANK YOU, Paul, for spending time with us today!

This sounds like the TV show featured in THE PAIN TOURIST. READ MORE

Praise for Paul Cleave

"An absolute thrill ride. Precise and swift and a joy to read … storytelling at its best."

—James Oswald

"Such a unique concept, with wonderful, emotional writing … I hooked on the story from the word go. BRILLIANT"

—Lisa Hall

"The most original and intense thriller ever!"

— Michael Wood

"Riveting from start to finish. Smart and twisty, this book will get under your ski."

—Liz Nugent

"Shocking and chilling. A literary ice plunge. I absolutely loved it."

—Helen Fields

"Almost three books in one! Multiple murders, dedicated detectives – past and present. Complex, detailed and oh, so clever."

—Sam Holland

[A] superior thriller. . . . The psychological depth of the leads bolsters the complex plot. This merits comparison with the work of Patricia Highsmith." —Publishers Weekly starred review of The Quiet People

"Paul Cleave is an automatic must-read for me."

—Lee Child

"You can't be a true fan of crime fiction if you're not reading Cleave's book."

—Tom Wood

"Uses words as lethal weapon."

—New York Times

"The sense of dread builds unstoppably in this gripping page-turner ... an intense, chilling read."

—Gilly Macmillan

"You may think you know where it s going, but you couldn't be more wrong. A true page-turner filled with dread, rage, doubt, and more twists than the Remutaka Pass."

—Linwood Barclay

"This very clever novel did my head in time and again."

—Michael Robotham

"Cleave' s whirligig plot mesmerizes."


"One to remember."

—New York Journal of Books

"A true page-turner, with an intriguing premise, a rollercoaster plot, and a cast of believably flawed characters."


"An absolute BELTER of a book ... I' d forgotten how good Paul Cleave is!"

—Sarah Pinborough

"Cleave writes the kind of dark, intense thrillers that I never want to end. Do yourself a favour and check him out."

—Simon Kernick

"Tense, thrilling, touching. Paul Cleave is very good indeed."

—John Connolly

"An intense adrenaline rush from start to finish."

—S J Watson

"A riveting and all too realistic thriller."

—Tess Gerritsen

"A gripping thriller... I couldn't put it down."

—Meg Gardiner

My Review

First-rate! Powerhouse international crime thriller author Paul Cleave knows how to keep readers to turning the pages, and he is in 'top form' with his latest— THE PAIN TOURIST.

"Pain Tourists —people who revel in the misery of others. Those who find personal satisfaction in visiting people or places associated with tragedies. And when the TV shows, podcasts, and books aren't enough for them, they break into houses to collect souvenirs."

This riveting thriller begins in Christchurch with a home invasion under the disguise of a wounded cop (three monsters) gone bad (wrong house). Frank and Avah Garrett are both real estate agents with two children.

Leaving two parents murdered and James, their eleven-year-old boy, shot in the back of the head and left for dead. While fourteen-year-old sister Hazel manages to escape with her little brother's help.

Detective Inspectors Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder (from previous books) are on the case. The case was not solved.

James manages to be alive; however, the surgeons lost him four times. Finally in a coma for nine years with his sister Hazel by his side. Then one day, after nine years, he comes out of his coma.

James was an imaginative young boy with an eidetic memory and always wanted to be a writer. During his nine years in a coma, he created a world called Coma World.

He can visit Coma World whenever he likes (the warehouse with cabinets (his parents purchased in his dreams). He can clearly remember those moments, as though he is transported into them. Everything outside of the Coma World (one of happiness) is The Real World (one of fear).

There, he can access the vast warehouse filled with hundreds of file cabinets—a place where he can lock away the painful memories and a place of solace where he can reimagine the story with a more happy ending.

James cannot speak due to his brain injuries, now age twenty, and he quickly writes, filling notebooks full of happenings during these nine years. His sister is now thirty-two and supportive of her brother in every way.

His surgeon, Doctor Wolfgang McCoy, quickly realizes in James' Coma World, memories are details and dates that coincide with the real world, including information about a possible murder.

  • CASE ONE: James may be able to help solve the case of his parent's death nine years earlier.

  • CASE TWO: While in a coma, there was a woman in his room (Georgia), and he overhears the husband (Nathaniel) confessing to attempted murder. (she later dies after being in a coma). How many other murders did he commit?

  • CASE THREE: Enter Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent, charged with solving another case—Copy Joe, the serial killer.

Years ago, there was Joe Middleton, dubbed the Christchurch Carver (previous book), who terrorized the city for years picking off women while working as a janitor at the police department. He was arrested and then escaped, and no one knows if he is still in Christchurch or New Zealand.

Is Joe back, or is this a copycat? Copy Joe.

Kent is now juggling all three cases.

She consults with Shroder and Tate; neither is still on the force, but they want to be involved. They work with a TV show, The Cleaner, filmed in Christchurch that follows the lives of two crime-scene cleaners finding themselves solving the crimes they're there to clean up. Solving cases the police can't. There is also a show called Crime Busters. The show has produced a steady income for Tate as a liaison between the TV studio and the police department.

How do these three cases connect?

The Garrett Family

Copy Joe, serial killer

Nathaniel and Georgia Perry

Pain Tourists go where the Joes of the world have been.

Tate, Kent, Hazel, and James are all now in danger. Can they stay one step ahead of the monsters who want to take them down? Who can they trust?

Many villains and monsters hide in plain sight, those who are pain tourists, delighting in others' pain and tragedy—some who seek notoriety, filled with greed and revenge. Some are disguised as cops, law-abiding citizens, colleagues, or friends with connections.

There are past and present detectives, some with troubled, haunted pasts trying to capture the monsters. Some are still grieving and struggling with the moral consequences of the crimes they investigate, and then there are survivors and heroes.

However, at its center is the bravest hero of all— we find in the unforgettable character of James Garrett. Brilliantly crafted, he and his sister, Hazel, are the "stars" of this show and ones you will remember long after the book ends.

Those who like their crime thrillers infused with humanity are richly rewarded!

This complex story has many moving parts, but Cleave has a confident and steady hand. His skills as a master storyteller are on full display.

Readers will be immersed in the suspenseful, alternating three investigations (storylines) and will not want them to end. Perfect for crime junkies, true crime fans, and dark, well-written thrillers and procedurals that explore human nature.

Multi-layered, complex, cleverly plotted, and wildly entertaining! Packed with non-stop action, twists, turns, emotion, and heart, THE PAIN TOURIST is CRIME fiction at its most THRILLING!

Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, a searing, unforgettable novel with a seamless blend of twisty police procedural, ingenious psychological thriller, gritty crime thriller, captivating literary fiction, suspense, mystery, and action—THE PAIN TOURIST has it all!

When combined, you get the best literary fiction which blends plot and story with character development to envelop you in a compelling work of art.

If you are a Cleave fan (like myself), you will enjoy catching up with familiar characters from previous books. However, the novel can be read easily as a standalone—new fans will delight. And if you haven't yet read him, this is the moment. Do not miss this one.

For fans of authors: Michael Connelly, Michael Robotham, Linwood Barclay, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner, and Dean Koontz.

If you enjoyed Cleave's The Quiet People, you will devour his latest. I am a long-time huge fan and have read all his books. One of my favorites —I highly recommend it along with his entire backlist.

Verdict: Simply the best crime fiction you will read this year! Highly creative, filled with intriguing turns, surprising revelations, and a compelling cast of characters who leap from the page— THE PAIN TOURIST is Cleave's most electrifying, provocative, gritty, and suspenseful novel yet! His superb writing is captivating, raw, powerful, and utterly gripping, yet written with humor, tenderness, and empathy —making him one of the "best" crime thrillers of today.

A special thank you to #OrendaBooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Also purchased a copy.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Nov 10, 2022

My Rating: 5 🌟 STARS +++

The Quiet People

"[A] superior thriller. . . . The psychological depth of the leads bolsters the complex plot. This merits comparison with the work of Patricia Highsmith." Publishers Weekly starred review of The Quiet People

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime as they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their seven-year-old son Zach goes missing, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time...

Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? READ MORE







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