Review: “The Closer I Get” by Paul Burston

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Intensely gripping and deeply unsettling, “The Closer I Get” by Paul Burston takes you to the darkest corners of social media where an obsessed follower can turn into a terrifying real-life nightmare.  

About the Book

“The Closer I Get” by Paul Burston

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.

My Review

Intensely gripping and deeply unsettling, “The Closer I Get” by Paul Burston takes you to the darkest corners of social media where an obsessed follower can turn into a terrifying real-life nightmare.

Author Tom Hunter’s first novel was a success.  His second was panned by readers and critics alike.  He needs a third book to save his career, but he’s failing at every attempt he makes to write it, thanks in large part to a stalker who’s been harassing him online.  

Evie Stokes is a blogger and potential novelist.  She connects with Tom on social media, but she wants much more from the handsome writer than just a follow back.  After meeting him at a book signing, she believes they share a special connection.  When she sends him her book-in-progress only to have him begin to ignore her, her affections quickly turn to fury and vitriol on Twitter and in emails.  Clearly obsessed and mentally unstable, Evie reveals herself as a continued threat to Tom’s life  through letters she writes to him (but never sends) after she’s prosecuted for harassment.   

As the book alternates between Evie’s letters and Tom’s everyday life, it doesn’t take more than a few chapters to realize she’s as unreliable of a narrator as she is a disturbed woman.  Yet, Tom’s no saint either.  He treats the people in his life poorly.  His ex-boyfriend.  His best friend Emma.  His one-night stand Luke.  It makes you ask: Is he purely Evie’s victim — or does he have ulterior motives that make his relationship with the truth as strained as hers?

“The Closer I Get” by Paul Burston is what all psychological thrillers should be. The story unwinds slowly as the book moves at a steady pace and the tension grows.  The truth is obscured at every turn by the well-developed characters of Tom and Evie.  What is the truth?  What are the lies?  As Evie reveals herself and her past through the letters she writes, Tom does the same through his actions, but also his personality traits.  The story almost seems straight-forward if it weren’t for the clouds of doubt these two constantly cast.  By the end, you’re clenching your southern set of cheeks in trepidation.  But then, it happens.  One of the characters reveals the truth and a huge, final twist.  It’ll turn you head over feet, making you wish you could read “The Closer I Get” for the first time again.