A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological, social-media thriller from the bestselling author of The Black Path
.Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing. But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on. A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…
Today as part of Orenda October I am re sharing my review of this chilling and accomplished thriller.
Psychological thrillers should by anyone definition be thrilling, make you feel on edge and rack up the tension as you read.
I’d like to share a little story, to show how from page one, this novel does all this and more. I started The Closer I Get in the waiting room of the Doctors surgery. Just routine tests I have all the time, nothing to worry about, yet this time after a few pages of this superb book, my blood pressure was up, when normally it’s fine. Relax the nurse suggested, think nice thoughts. I desperately tried not to think of the chilling opening of the book, but still it was too high for her liking, so I thought nice, non stakerish and whoopie it was back to normal. This book seriously leaves you on edge and that is backed up by my practice nurse!
Move to the following Saturday. There I am sitting quietly in my garden and bam, the tension ramps up to another level. I could’t help it, I exclaimed loudly, OMG, F**k! Not sure what my neighbours thought, but if they had asked, I’d have told them, this book is amazing, its unnerving and I just didn’t want to put it down. It really is the perfect illustration of the often touted description on book covers that loudly proclaim ‘edge of your seat reading’. Now I love my brother and niece, but when they knocked the door that Saturday (I still have no idea why they didn’t use their key), when I only had 15% left to read, for a millisecond, I actually considered not answering the door! I just wanted to read on and on.
That’s how good this book is, it’s like being embraced in your worst nightmare, except you have a get out clause, this is not your life, for Tom it is and you feel like you’re teetering on the edge with him.
The story itself is the perfect depiction of the seedier side of social media and its power to shock, is because anyone of us, by one random like on a post, could be caught up in this nightmare. The writer gives us the perfect depiction about obsession, exploitation and the downsides to living a life open to all on social media. Tom, who is neither perfect, or always likeable, becomes the victim of an online troll, a young women, who comes to believe she is closer to him than she really is. This obsession comes to affect both his physical and mental health. But is Tom’s sometimes questionable decision making, the course of this, or is Evie delusional, insecure and damaged, the real victim in all this? Throughout the book, my mind was changed, as the clever writing wharped my initial perceptions of what is actually going on and I changed my mind about who the real victim was!
When so many are telling us that creating an online presence is essential to our personal brand, this book is a powerful, exciting and relevant depiction of living a life in an age of all consuming social media.
About the author
Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel ‘The Black Path’, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016 and was a bestseller at WH Smith. His first novel, ‘Shameless’, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, ‘Lovers & Losers’ was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including The Guardian, The Independent, Time Out, The Times and The Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing.
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