On 2018 Radar: Closer Than You Know By Brad Parks

On our radar for 2018 is a new thriller by Brad Parks titled Closer Than You Know which is scheduled for a March 2018 release by Dutton. Using a cinematic and fast-paced plot idea, Parks has crafted an entertaining and satisfying commercial thriller.

One of the central figures in the story, Melanie Barrick, is a young mother living an ordinary life: On the surface, there is nothing extraordinary about 31-year-old Melanie’s life. But after surviving foster care and a rootless past, her present-day existence – a loving husband, a safe home, and a beautiful baby boy – is more than she dared hope for.

Then, in the blink of an eye, her world comes crashing down around her. What seems to be like a typical busy day for her suddenly ends up as a nightmare: Her son, Alex, is taken away by Social Services for reasons no one will explain to her. Melanie, a foster kid herself, knows all too well about the horrors of foster care – “the system”, as it’s known.

When she gets home, the nightmare only grows. Her house has been raided by the sheriff’s department, and the police have found enough cocaine to send her to prison for many years. Melanie knows it’s not hers, but the evidence against her is overwhelming.

A fast-paced commercial thriller: A good pick if you want to be entertained.

The second key figure in Park’s novel is also a woman but from an entirely different background: Amy Kaye, the guarded, no-nonsense assistant commonwealth’s attorney, is assigned to prosecute Melanie’s case. And Amy’s boss, Aaron Dansby, wants her to make an example out of Melanie, whom the local media christens “Coke Mom”.

But Amy’s attention continues to be drawn to a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who is still at large, a man whose only signature is to whisper at his victims throughout the attack. A man who has resurfaced again and begun targeting women in the area. And who might be the key to Melanie’s salvation.

Throughout the book, the author changes the point of view in which the story is being narrated from: From Melanie, to Amy or a third-person’s view. The effect is a cinematic style of story-telling with timely cuts from one setting to another.

Given the fact that the novel’s plot is not entirely original, an avid thriller reader is not expected to be shocked by the ending. The characters are also somehow cliche as a result. Having said that, this is satisfying commercial read which does not disappoint.

Our Rating: 3.5

Note: Check out our interview with the author Brad Parks here. Also, our coverage of The Girl Next Door from the same author can be found here

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