Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

Think about riding a rollercoaster for a second; the anticipation as tension builds right before a sudden plunge that makes gravity release its hold on you; the fast turns and flips that send you reeling. Now imagine feeling that tension and anticipation as you sit in your favorite reading place. That feeling is what Paul Cleave provides in his thriller The Laughterhouse.

Theodore Tate, a former police officer is barely scrapping a life together. His wife is in a coma and his daughter is dead due to a drunk driver. He spent several months in jail for his own drunken exploits, and he can’t convince anyone that he didn’t kill the drunk driver who ruined his family. All he really wants, aside from his family, is to be a police officer again. He gets his chance when a spree of murders occurs. The deaths are all similar to each other – multiple stab wounds and messages scrawled in pen across the victims foreheads. It is clear that there was a lot of rage involved in each crime scene. Due to the quickness of each murder, and that a doctor and his three young girls have been reported missing, Tate is allowed back on the force to work the case to find the connection. Tate sets out to balance out the loss of the young girl from 15 years ago and his own daughter by bringing the spree killer/kidnapper to justice.

The best feature of The Laughterhouse is that it is told from two different perspectives. Inspector Tate, who is an emotionally complicated character, tells one side of the story. Tate struggles to balance his past and present, as he tries to focus on solving the case. The second perspective is that of the killer. This is where a lot of that rollercoaster feeling comes into play. The reader gets to experience the slow build up of tension as the killer struggles with his past and commits terrible violence in order to create his own type of balance, which isn’t truly understood until the last few pages of the book.

I honestly could not put this book down. I felt terrified, sad, hopeful, and relieved within only a few turns of the page, and then it would all happen again. This is a great read for anyone who likes psychological thrillers and mysteries. You will be on the edge of your seat gasping, feeling sorrow, and feeling optimistic as you wonder what emotion the next page will hold.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Atria Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.