Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for The Closer I Get by Paul Burston. I absolutely loved this book and shared my thoughts in a review back in May. If you want to know why I think this book is brilliant and a red hot read you can find my review here. I might have already shared my thoughts but I couldn’t resist being on the tour so, thanks to the lovely Anne Cater, of Random Things Tours, and Orenda Books, I have a fab extract to share with you all. First up, let’s see what the book is all about:
About the Book
A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological, social-media thriller from the bestselling author of The Black Path.
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.
A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…Available from Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
From The Book
What was that stunt you pulled in court today? A screen? Seriously? You requested a screen between us while you gave evidence. What am I – some sort of wild animal you need protecting from? What did you expect me to do, Tom? Leap across the room and go for your throat? A little woman like me and a big man like you? Don’t make me laugh. When they first told me, I thought they were joking. I was in one of the consulting rooms with my lawyer when a court official came to break the news.
‘But why does he need a screen?’ I demanded.
My lawyer shrugged and replied, ‘It’s within his rights.’
Your rights? What about my rights? I’m the one on trial here. Surely I should have the right to see my accuser?
Apparently, you’d made a request to the Crown Prosecution Service, insisting that you found me intimidating and didn’t want to ‘feed’ my ‘fixation’ by giving me the satisfaction of looking at you.
Really, Tom, you don’t half flatter yourself. And we both know that not a word of this is true. If you ask me, it was more a case of you not wanting to look me in the face when you lied. It’s harder to lie convincingly when the person you’re lying about is standing right in front of you. That’s the real reason you asked for that screen, isn’t it Tom? Not so that I couldn’t see you. So that you couldn’t see me.
Earlier in the day we’d heard from your policewoman friend – the one who came to arrest me the night this whole nightmare began. Do you have any idea how distressing that was? The police turning up at my door, barging into my bedroom, accusing me of all sorts? You know my dad hasn’t been very well lately. He’s the reason I moved back home.
How do you think he felt, seeing his only daughter led away by the police like a common criminal? That’s a cruel trick to play on a man with a heart condition.
I was charged under the Malicious Communications Act. Me! A woman who doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body. Who has only ever wanted what’s best for you. Who stood by you when the critics trashed your last book. How many times did I leap to your defence, Tom? How many hours did I spend reassuring you that the critics were wrong, that they weren’t fit to pass judgement on a book so original and so brilliantly written, it was beyond their comprehension? ‘Ignore them,’ I said. Then, when you insisted that reviews that bad were impossible to ignore, I did everything within my power to soften the blow. I’ve lost count of how many reader reviews I posted on Amazon, how many critics I took to task in the comments sections, how many Wikipedia pages I corrected. I was your biggest supporter. And then you send the police round to accuse me, of all people, of malice?
Anyway, there she was again this morning, my arresting officer, standing in the witness box and looking very pleased with herself, as if she’d apprehended some major offender and not a woman whose only crime was to fall for the wrong man. From the way she described you, I could tell that you’d obviously worked your charms on her, too. That’s a real gift you have there, Tom. Pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Getting them to do your dirty work. Playing the victim when really you’re the one pulling all the strings. How clever you are, my darling. And how deceitful. Even the criminal justice system’s finest minds are no match for you.
Not that I consider Detective Inspector Sue Grant an intellectual giant. If anything, she seems a bit thick. She has one of those faces that suggests lower intelligence – fleshy cheeks, a short nose, hooded eyes and a fat chin. I can easily picture her sitting at the back of a classroom, unable to complete her assignment, chewing on a ballpoint pen, oblivious to the blue ink staining her lips. And nothing she has said or done during this whole sorry affair leads me to believe that I’ve been remotely harsh or hasty in my judgement. On the contrary, each encounter has only served to reinforce my initial impression of her as someone who isn’t quite up to the job.
You’ll be pleased to hear that she stuck to her script – the one I’m sure you had no small part in writing – and was helped along by the prosecutor, who looked suitably stern with her severely arched eyebrows and dark hair in a French pleat. It hasn’t escaped my attention that the people lining up to help you destroy my reputation are mostly women. So much for the sisterhood, eh? But I did find myself wondering how much say you had in all of this, and whether there was a reason for it, other than to provoke me. Is a female prosecutor more likely to curry favour with a woman judge? It certainly seemed that way today.
When they first told me there’d be a district judge presiding, I took it as a good sign. According to the government website, judges are only called upon to try cases in magistrates’ court when a case is deemed too complex or sensitive for mere magistrates to handle. What could be more fitting in our case? I’m complex and you’re far too sensitive. So I had high expectations of Her Ladyship’s mental faculties. Here, surely, was someone of great learning who would cut through the crap and get right to the heart of the matter.
From where I was standing, there were plenty of holes in DI Grant’s evidence. And she came unstuck a few times under cross-examination, getting her dates and times confused and failing to explain why, if I posed such a threat to you, it had taken her so long to secure an arrest warrant.
It’s a shame you weren’t there to see it – the great detective, fumbling with her notebook, fluffing her lines. I know the system forbids you from hearing another witness’s testimony until after you’ve given evidence, but this whole trial is such a farce anyway, I doubt it would have made any difference. To me, it was perfectly clear that Ms Grant fell a long way short of making a convincing case. But for some strange reason, the judge seemed willing to take her at her word. It’s at times like these that one’s faith in the system is put to the test – and on this occasion it failed miserably.
Intrigued? You should be as, believe me, it gets even better. You can get your own copy from the links above and I highly recommend you do.
About the Author
Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel The Black Path, was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel, Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, The Gay Divorcee, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing and the newly announced Polari Prize.
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