The Cleanup Review
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Matthew Worth was pretty sure things couldn’t get too much worse. He tried to follow in the footsteps of his father and older brother by becoming a cop—but he failed miserably. He also failed miserably at being a husband—and when his wife decided to leave him for a homicide detective named Vargas, things had gotten even worse. So now he’s single again, and he’s been taken off the streets and forced to work the night shift, patrolling an Omaha supermarket that’s been prone to robbery. Occasionally, Matthew also bags groceries—especially if Gwen, a quiet young cashier is working.

But things do get worse for Matthew. One day, Gwen shows up at the store, desperately in need of help. Tired and beaten, Gwen confesses to killing her abusive boyfriend. And instead of calling in the murder, he decides to help Gwen cover it up. But it’s not as easy as he thought it would be—because Gwen’s boyfriend was more than just your everyday abusive jerk, and his disappearance doesn’t go unnoticed. Before long, Matthew finds that he’s being trailed by a couple of street thugs and a pair of crooked cops—and covering things up isn’t as easy as he thought it would be. He’s in over his head—and he’s not sure how he’ll ever get out.

Sean Doolittle’s latest strings together a motley band of characters: good cops, bad cops, young punks, old crooks, the crippled old guy who shows up at the wrong time, the innocent cashier caught in the middle, and the clueless good guy who just wants to help. Matthew, especially, is a great character. He’s a good guy at heart, but he’s just a bit of a screw-up—and you can’t help but want everything to work out for him. And Gwen is a sweet kid who just wants to make a life for herself—but she can’t seem to make the right decisions at the right times. The rest of the characters, however, sometimes complicate the story. It’s not always easy to tell all the other characters apart, and with all the names flying past you, you might find it challenging to remember which is which—and who’s working for whom. And that tends to bog down the action.

The Cleanup is a suspenseful read that’s loaded with action. But there’s a lot going on, and that makes it a slow read, too. So if you’ve got the time to sit back and pay attention, you’ll find that it’s an enjoyable pulp-y read. But if you do your reading on the run—on a crowded bus during your daily commute, for instance—you might find it challenging to follow.

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