Obsession. Or, as Adrian’s mother would insist, ‘deep interest’. Because sane people don’t obsess about things, they just are very, very interested. Therefore, Adrian isn’t obsessed with serial killers; he has just a normal amount of interest in them. That’s why he locked one in his basement and brings victims like gift-wrapped presents for the killer to abuse. It’s not an obsession. It’s interest.

Paul Cleave plots this dark thriller amongst the spiralling chaos of Christchurch, New Zealand. The novel starts with Theo Tate, an ex-police officer, leaving the city’s prison after serving his jail sentence for mistakes made in the previous year. As with each of his characters, Cleave relishes in forcing the reader to delve into the depths of their despair and gain insight in why the disturbing act in the way they do. After all, can you condemn Adrian’s interest in killers if he was raised in a mental institution with a scream room hidden in the basement?

When Cooper Riley, Professor of Criminal Psychology, and his student, Emma Green, disappear on the same day, Theo Tate finds himself faced with the same troubling question. Although Tate had sworn his detective years were behind him, guilt forces the ex-cop back on the chase. After all, he owed Emma; he was the culprit for the DUI accident that had nearly killed her in the previous year. However, the trail keeps leading him back to the one place with thousands of secrets to hide; the abandoned mental asylum on the outskirts of town. It’s a trail that ends in the one of the goriest scenes that Cleave has ever written, and surely one that Theo Tate would have avoided if he had any inkling of where he would end up.

Collecting Cooper is a story of obsession. In catching a serial killer, in avoiding them and in becoming one. This dark novel takes you from a place of clear-cut villains and heroes to one where both sides cross and you’re unsure on who, if any, you want to succeed.

It’s a wonderfully dark and gripping tale that seems to finish too soon, but with Paul Cleave’s new novel, A Killer Harvest, set to hit the bookshelves of Black Cat Bookshop this August, fans won’t have to wait long to re-enter his murderous world.