Skip to main content

Closer Than You Know

Review

Closer Than You Know

In CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW, which is part legal thriller and part domestic suspense, it takes only a single event to make everything that seems normal and stable in one’s life unravel. Here, the (at times melodramatic) phrase “Disaster is always closer than you know” hovers like a cloud over the characters.

Melanie Barrick, a victim of child abuse, the foster care system and sexual assault, goes to work at a Virginian truck company thinking it is just another day in her respectable middle-class life. As she runs late to pick up her infant son from daycare, she learns that he has been taken by Social Services. Melanie is being accused of hiding drugs in her house that has been planted by someone else and raided by the sheriff’s office. She later finds out that her husband, Ben, has been lying to her for months about his livelihood. The majority of the book is a battle against emotion, evidence and time, with Melanie on the cusp of having her parental rights terminated and never seeing her son again.

"[CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW] beautifully levels the tension higher towards its climax and will keep readers on the edge of their seats trying to find out whodunit and devouring every word."

Meanwhile, Amy Kaye, the assistant commonwealth’s attorney, presides over both Melanie’s case and a cold case that is not high on anyone else’s priority lists. For years, Amy has been pursuing a serial rapist whose traits include wearing masks and whispering commands, leaving multiple victims in his wake. Amy finally catches on to a lead that could reveal the attacker and give a name to Melanie’s rapist.

The most noticeable aspect of the plot is that Melanie’s connection to Amy’s case is a bit obvious, but Melanie is a sympathetic character thanks to the access we have to her inner thoughts. The amount of pain, frustration and bewilderment that Melanie and Amy feels jumps off the page and keeps readers sucked into its speeding pace and unpredictable outcomes. Another compelling relationship involves Melanie and her neighbor, Bobby Ray, who find some common ground despite their stark differences.

CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW can be hard to read due to its subject matter, but it beautifully levels the tension higher towards its climax and will keep readers on the edge of their seats trying to find out whodunit and devouring every word. Brad Parks does insert red herrings to throw his audience off track, but it never slows down the plot for too long. The chilling realism surrounding Social Services and the effects that life in the foster care system can have on an individual many years later will haunt you, especially when reading from the perspective of a woman who has been beat down her entire life and just wants a normal existence.

Reviewed by Gabriella Mayer on March 23, 2018

Closer Than You Know
by Brad Parks

  • Publication Date: March 6, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • ISBN-10: 1101985623
  • ISBN-13: 9781101985625