A fascinating thing happened a few weeks ago, where within a couple of days I got emails from two different publishers offering me a free book in return for a review on this site. I’ve had individual authors send me ARCs a couple of times, but those were always in “Hey, who wants an ARC?” types of situations where I jumped in and happily claimed a book.

At any rate, they were hoping my review of Lee Maguire’s Closer Than You Think would hit the site on May 8th or 9th, and … uh … yeah, it’s the 11th, so I’m not doing a great job just yet in fulfilling my end of the bargain. Life has been doing an admirable job of getting in the way of my blogging lately, if you haven’t noticed.

Closer Than You Think is about Bryce Davison, a psychologist, who lives in central Pennsylvania with his basset hound, who he shares custody of with his estranged, not-quite-ex-yet wife. Lee Maguire, by the way, is a psychologist who lives in central Pennsylvania with his presumably not estranged wife and a basset hound. Davison’s life is more or less falling apart around him as the book opens; he’s trying to make things work with his wife but it’s not going well, he’s moved out and into his own place, and … oh, someone is stalking him. Someone who clearly is able to get into his apartment whenever they want, and is fond of doing things like drenching his pillow in floral perfume, leaving creepy notes about, hacking into his email, and stabbing his bathrobe to death, a scene that is actually quite a bit freakier than it sounds when I describe it that way.

I gotta be honest; I wasn’t a huge fan of the book. There’s a serviceable storyline in here, and Maguire knows how to pace a thriller– there are 91 chapters in this book’s 306 pages, which encourages binge-reading because finishing just one more chapter is always an easily achieved goal. But … well, look at the cover. See how the words “A BROKEN MINDS” at the bottom don’t look like they’re quite centered, and are kinda spaced funny, and maybe you’re not the type of person to notice and be bothered by that but I absolutely am? The whole book was kinda like that. Nothing terrible, just a lot of little stuff that kept cropping up and kicking me out of my reading. Occasional typos. Dialogue that is definitely consistent but is maybe rotated fifteen degrees or so from how people actually talk. A book that is set in 2019 (or, if it isn’t, never makes that clear) but whose main character takes a paragraph to log into his computer every single time he checks his email — something that happens a lot — and doesn’t really seem to understand how his phone works, and I’m not sure whether that’s supposed to be something about the character or if it reflects something about the author.

It’s not bad, mind you. There are things about the book I like. There’s real tension here, and a twisty-turniness(*) to the plot that I like, and I have to admit I didn’t see the way it ends coming, which I’m going to choose to interpret as a good thing. It’s kind of the Platonic ideal of the three-stars-out-of-five book; if you’re really into thrillers maybe bump that up a point.

(I sigh deeply, as I realize that this review isn’t super likely to get me sent any more free books. I like free books!)

Some links, for your websurfing pleasure:

(*) which autocorrect alters to “twisty-turviness,” which isn’t a word at all.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

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