You can listen to a reading from Cleave's newly released thriller, BLOOD MEN, and the interesting interview HERE (about 14 minutes total).
Cleave (who is quite a softspoken 'nice' guy in real life) talks about a number of topics, including writing dark tales, creating ambiguity in his characters, his dark portrayal of Christchurch and what he really thinks of his home town, international success, his upcoming launch in the US, and what he thinks about the rising media/public interest in real-life crime.
I actually just re-read BLOOD MEN on the weekend, to refresh my memory for some upcoming reviews I am writing (I originally read an earlier version last year). I picked it up yesterday, thinking I'd work my way through it over the week, but in the end (even though I'd already read it once, so knew basically what was going to happen), still found myself so caught up in it that I read the whole thing last night.
I really enjoyed the little comments and asides about life that Cleave weaves into what is a very action-packed tale. Like some of my longtime favourite authors (e.g. Mark Billingham and Michael Connelly), Cleave creates a cracking storyline and interesting characters, but also has a fresh/unique/his own way of looking at, describing, and commenting on things in an around the story. Not just in terms of setting a scene geography/location-wise, but also the people etc. There are subtext and layers to his and his characters' observations and narrative - giving the story more 'depth'. It would be a great romp of a read plotwise anyway, but these 'extras' (like I see from Billingham, Connelly etc) elevate his writing onto another level.
Still, BLOOD MEN won't be for everyone, as there is some pretty stark violence at times. It never feels contrived or gratuitious however - just an organic part of the story. Cosy mystery fans beware, but those that don't mind their thrills a little dark should love it.