The Cleanup


2007 Barry Award recipient, Best Paperback Original
2007 Anthony Award finalist, Best Paperback Original
2007 Nebraska Book Award Honor Book (fiction)
Voted “Favorite Book of 2006” by the readers of
CrimeSpree Magazine
2007 Spinetingler Award recipient, Rising Star Category

“The Cleanup is a wonderful discovery. Tight, taut, and tough, this is the work of a writer who knows the territory inside and out. This is a great read.”

Michael Connelly


Matthew Worth is a mess. Somewhere between a good cop and a bad screwup, he botched a marriage and a career. His fellow officers think he’s a joke. His commanders are tired of cutting him breaks. Even his wife has left him for a flashy homicide detective. Busted to night patrol at a robbery-prone Omaha supermarket, Worth is doing time, wearing his uniform and asking shoppers if they want paper or plastic. If that isn’t enough, he suspects he might be falling for Gwen, the shy checkout girl who may be an even bigger mess than he is. It couldn’t get any worse. Until it does.

When Gwen comes to him one night scared and desperate for help, Worth discovers just how far he’s willing to go to protect and serve. The next thing he knows, he’s driving a stolen car with a corpse in the trunk, a pistol in the glove box, and no way to turn back. Everything he doesn’t know could get them killed. And things haven’t even begun to get messy yet….


“Sean Doolittle’s novels are stylishly written and refreshing in their quirky originality. . .The Cleanup is a noir thriller that takes nasty glee in putting a decent man in a terrible situation and watching him go to the dogs. . .Worth makes one bad judgment call after the next in this black comedy, a terrifying nightmare seen from the inside – and absurdly funny when you’re lucky enough to be just looking in.”

–Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Sean Doolittle is one of the bright stars among the galaxy of talented young authors who write with style and authority. His new novel comes showered with enthusiastic quotes. . .That much praise gives one the sense that if anyone just now discovering Mr. Doolittle doesn’t like the book, the fault is not the author’s but the reader’s. Having just finished The Cleanup, I’d have to concur.”

–Otto Penzler, The New York Sun

“[Doolittle] is, as Laura Lippman says in a jacket blurb for his latest, “a cult writer for the masses”–a title that fits several other writers (Dickens, Doyle, Dostoevski) whose last names happen to begin with “D.” “The Cleanup” (Dell, $6.99) is about a terminally hopeless Omaha police officer who winds up as a night-security guard at a supermarket, and it could well be the best-thrills-for-the-buck reading bargain of the year.”

–Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

“The Cleanup takes Doolittle to an even higher plane. . .Things spin gloriously out of control for Worth but never for Doolittle, who is in absolute command of every element and infuses this novel with a strong sense of wistfulness.”

–Sarah Weinman, Baltimore Sun

“Sean Doolittle, today’s finest writer of Midwestern noir. . .doesn’t get the attention that many of the bigger names in the crime genre do, but he should. His understated novels are real gems, fine examples of timeless crime writing that hold up the rich traditions of the genre while also breaking new ground.”

–David J. Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times

“Doolittle has penned a character-driven yet suspenseful novel about choice and consequence, with a well-crafted lead and a narrative style that’s punchy and sincere.”

–Publishers Weekly

“Anyone foolish enough to say that the age of pulp fiction ended years ago need only pick up one of Doolittle’s little noir gems. This one is about a good cop going through a bad streak, a grocery-store cashier ready to dump her abusive boyfriend, and one simple favor that gets blown way out of proportion. . .Seedy, steamy, quirky, and fidgety. . .Noir fans will savor this one.”

(written by David Pitt)

“Probing the dark recesses of the country’s heartland, this author is quietly charting some very unique and very fertile territory. The Cleanup is a flat out pleasure to read.”

–The Mean Streets
(written by James Clar)

“In his fine fourth novel, Nebraska-based crime writer Sean Doolittle turns in a deft and unflinching character study of a middling cop treading quicksand. . . In classic hardboiled tradition, each ill-advised action [produces] a range of increasingly dire complications and switchbacks. . .The steadily darkening narrative is lightened by Doolittle’s sharp and wry sense of humor and moved along by his acute ear for convincing dialogue. . .a particularly vivid autumn read for crime fans who favor gritty realism and character-driven suspense.”

— Craig McDonald, ThisWeek Community Newspapers (Columbus, OH)

“A realistic, compassionate, absolutely gripping thriller in the very best noir tradition. . .Doolittle lays out a complex plot so clearly he could be an architect, and every character rings true. Bravo.

(written by Clair Lamb)

“Doolittle deftly spins his dark web of death and deceit, snaring the reader with a few real surprises.

–Lansing State Journal
(written by Ray Walsh)

“The Cleanup was the first of Sean Doolittle’s mysteries that I’ve read. It was so good that I want to read his three previous mysteries as well.”

–Leslie McGill, Kansas City Star

“Take a deep breath and hold on with this page-turner. . .It’s one of the best suspense novels I’ve read this year.”

Lincoln Journal-Star
(written by George Wright)

“Exhilerating and brilliant. . .every page entertained me and kept me turning each one of them in anticipation of the outcome.”

–Fresh Fiction
(written by Mandy Burns)

“Grab The Cleanup and enjoy the ride, because I believe Doolittle is bubbling just under the national conscious. . .it won’t last that much longer. . . .”

(written by Bruce Grossman)

“Admittedly, I had never before read a book by Sean Doolittle. After reading The Cleanup that’s going to change as I didn’t know what I was missing. . . .”

(written by Brian Lindenmuth)

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