Published by Orenda Books
Available in ebook and paperback (11 July 2019)
Source: ecopy provided by publisher for review
ABOUT THE BOOK
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…
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and to the publisher for providing an ecopy.
After reading this book, you may want to think very carefully about how you use your social media accounts. Just sayin’.
Tom Hunter is the author of a bestselling novel but his second book hasn’t matched the huge success of the first and his confidence has taken a knock, he is struggling to write his latest book and is getting pressure from his agent. At a book signing he meets Evie, she shows an interest in his book, they chat, he signs her book. She gives him her business card. She follows him on Twitter, he follows back. The chat starts off friendly enough and he likes the attention but then when the tone changes and Tom tries to back off, things turn nasty. Evie won’t take no for an answer.
Told by Tom in the third person and by Evie by way of first person journal entries and letters, The Closer I Get is a compelling and relevant story of the dangers of social media and what happens when that line is crossed when one person thinks that their friendly overtures are welcomed but the recipient sees it as obsessive and intrusive. Evie is clearly fixated on Tom and takes it very badly when he tries to withdraw from her attentions. The endless trolling of him on social media takes its toll on him and his mental health. When he finally goes to the police and she is subsequently given a restraining order she is angry over the perceived injustice of it all and finds a focus for all that frustration and anger.
Both characters not only come across as unreliable narrators but are quite unlikeable too and neither came out of this tale well although I have to say I did feel more sympathy for Tom than for Evie. I’ve had my own experience of stalking many years ago, pre-internet days, it’s horrible and frightening and I could identify with that feeling of wondering if the person would suddenly appear. Tom as a character could be rather arrogant and self-obsessed, with a lack of awareness of how badly he treated other people and Evie seemed well, just unstable and extremely disturbed. She was far from stupid though. She was extremely well read, as the many literary quotes and references throughout the book testify.
The main characters were superbly drawn but there were other characters who made a valuable contribution – Tom’s friend Emma – his plus one; taken to events and also taken for granted, the neighbour Colin with the ill-fitting wig – far from being a caricature he was a wise old soul who gave Tom some much needed perspective.
As the story progresses and you realise just how manipulative they are and that both Evie and Tom are lying about certain things; the lines between truth and lies become ever more blurred and it becomes harder to tell exactly what the truth is.
With a dramatic and unpredictable climax that I had to go back and read twice, The Closer I Get is a superbly written dark and chilling take on how easy it is for people to hide behind social media and email accounts and how reliant we are on them and how trusting too. This excellent and thought provoking thriller will unsettle and make you look at your social media accounts more carefully!
There is a special limited first edition, signed hardback edition of this book available from Goldsboro Books. As soon as I saw those bright yellow ‘spredges’ I had to have it!
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 a WHSmith bestseller. 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 Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and 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 and the newly announced Polari Prize.