The Closer I Get is a book with a very topical theme, one of social media and how something that is mostly positive can become very negative very quickly.

Tom is a published author. His first book was incredibly successful but his second has bombed. Everyone is wondering if he’s a one-hit wonder. But in amongst all those people is Evie, a fan who has become obsessed with him. Her infatuation has not yet turned into violence but she’s harassing him online to the point that he has to get the police involved. But for all that he’s concerned about her behaviour, there’s a part of his ego that needs her attention. It’s a fine line, don’t you think, between courting attention and that attention becoming unwanted?

This is such a good read. I thought the author did a fabulous job at portraying Tom as the victim and Evie as the perpetrator and yet also showed that sometimes it’s not as clear cut as that. Tom also made mistakes. Nevertheless, Evie is a scary individual, measured and careful in her stalking, ensuring that Tom can never be sure she’s not behind him in the street, on the other side of a fish tank in an aquarium, or responsible for a tweet that may or may not be aimed at him. I could see how Tom was beginning to question everything and in that way Evie was slowly breaking him down.

This is a dark tale. I didn’t know who to trust. Did I believe Tom was totally innocent? Did I think it was all down to Evie? What about Tom’s best friend, Emma? And Colin, his neighbour when he decamps to Hastings to try and finish his third book? The waiter that Tom takes a fancy to whilst out to dinner with Emma? Such is the intrigue level that I suspected them all of being a bit on the dodgy side.

There’s a rather clever twist at the end, clever to the point that I had to read part of it again to really take it in. Sometimes, things aren’t all they seem! This is a book that had me hooked, just wanting to know what was going to happen next. It’s an excellent psychological thriller.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 4/5

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston
Orenda Books 9781912374779 pbk Jul 2019