Oh my god...this book. Holy cow. This is the third UK/Ireland area book I've read recently...and they've all been mindfucks. What it is in the water there?
I love it.
I received this book from Netgalley via the publisher HQ Digital. Which is a digital first imprint from Harper Collins.
I fully realize that Ireland and the UK are vastly different but I guess I'm grouping them together via geographical nearness...don't write me hate mail.
Title: Closer Than You Think
Author: Darren O'Sullivan
Page Number: 277 pages (ebook version)
Genre: fiction, thriller, psychological thriller, mystery, suspense
Publisher: HQ Digital, an imprint of Harper Collins
He’s watching. She’s waiting. Having barely escaped the clutches of a serial killer, Claire Moore has struggled to rebuild her life. After her terrifying encounter with the man the media dubbed The Black-Out Killer, she became an overnight celebrity: a symbol of hope and survival in the face of pure evil. And then the killings stopped.
Now ten years have passed, and Claire remains traumatised by her brush with death. Though she has a loving and supportive family around her, what happened that night continues to haunt her still.
Just when things are starting to improve, there is a power cut; a house fire; another victim found killed in the same way as before.
The Black-Out Killer is back. And he’s coming for Claire…
Oh Claire. She's such a mess. Not my normal brand of main character.
She did just survive a crazed serial killer...but she's riddled with anxiety and PTSD so it's totally understandable. She's strong in her own way...but she's not your normal en vogue 'strong, kick-butt' lady protagonist but it works here. I was pleasantly surprised by how well O'Sullivan did with a female voice--sometimes some authors do the boobily down the stairs thing.
Claire's story is told in the present as well as some hints of what happened to her. Some of her injuries are not revealed in full until she enters the security section of the airport on her return trip to Ireland. She lives with or near her mother and step-father because of her fierce anxiety and rarely goes out in public.
The other part of the book deals with the crime of the Black-Out Killer, a serial killer terrorizing Ireland. He was supposedly captured a decade ago and then died in prison. The Black-Out Killer would cut the power to a neighborhood and then enter a house to kill a man--then later a man and a woman. He was fairly brutal, setting fire to the house once he had finished. Claire and her husband were the last victims, Claire managing to survive by throwing herself out a window.
The murders start up again, the police initially think it's a copycat but when they realise it could be the real killer then send a team to Claire for protection. The rest of the book follows Claire as she deals with the anniversary of her husband's murder, her first relationship after the attack, her navigation of daily life...all while the reader gets a viewpoint of the killer getting closer to her.
With Claire's thoughts interspersed with chapters from the killer's dark thoughts, it's a wham-bam of traumatized and trama-giver. It created (for me) a constant, tense, undercurrent to the writing.
The cast of characters is somewhat slim: Claire, her family, online support group (only one or two people are mentioned by name), and new boyfriend. The thought that the killer was one of these people (and this close to her) was terrifying. It really adds to the psychological suspense. It also made me distrust every last single one of these side supporting characters. Was it the mother? The step-father playing the long game? The friend who might be secretly stalking her? A stranger-danger routine? Was the police protection officer really legitimate? Obviously her new boyfriend was suspicious as hell.
The ending shocked me. I really liked it and it brought the book up in ratings for me because it was so unexpected and I tend to just get tense when reading suspense or thrillers. That being said, I'm not sure everyone will like the end. O'Sullivan took a risk with the way he wrapped up the book and I really appreciated that but I know it won't be universally popular.
O'Sullivan also briefly mentioned that the (fictional) Black-Out Killer was the first serial killer in Ireland in over a century (in this fictional universe) so I spent more time than I'd like to admit researching serial killers in Ireland. In the real world, there isn't as many...but they've had a different outlet I guess. I'm probably on a list now.
Darren O'Sullivan's Twitter
Harper Collins UK book page
Harper Collins USA book page
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