A Book Spy Review: ‘Closer Than You Know’ by Brad Parks

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closer than you knowBrad Parks explores every parent’s worst nightmare in his latest nail-biting thriller, Closer Than You Know.

Melanie Barrick was late getting out of work again, which meant she again had to carefully speed down the streets of a quiet Virgina suburb to get to her daycare lady’s house before the ridiculously enforced pick-up time passed. She’d been late several times before, and any more strikes would mean that she would have to find a new daycare for her sweet, three-month-old son, Alex — a headache she badly wanted to avoid.

This time, though, when Melaine arrives, she finds the house locked up and quiet. She bangs on the door and is told that police took her baby, but isn’t given an explanation as to why. She wonders if the daycare lady actually called the cops on her because she was late, and tries her best not to lose her head as she drives to the police station. Things get worse when she’s told that Augusta County Sheriff’s Office found almost a kilo of cocaine in the Barricks’ home, stashed in Alex’s nursery, and turned her child over to social services.

In a matter of minutes, Melanie’s world swirls out of control. She swears her innocence and, in a haze of anger and confusion, assaults a police officer, landing herself in jail.

Deputy commonwealth attorney Amy Kaye had been working a case involving a serial rapist when she’s pulled off that to build a case against Melanie, whom0 the media has nicknamed “Coke Mom” in light of the allegations against her. On her to-do list is proving that Melaine intended to distribute the cocaine, a task she knocks out quickly as she works to prove herself to her boss, Aaron Dansby, who has much higher political aspirations than simply occupying his current office. Shooting for the moon, Kaye begins trying to link the murder of a man Melaine met just once to Coke Mom in an effort to put her away for life.

Readers will sympathize with Melaine, who was abused as a child and bounced around foster homes before landing on her feet as a hard-working adult. After finally getting her life together, and doing everything within her power to make sure that Alex will grow up in a safe home surrounded by loving parents, both things she never had, her universe comes crashing down all around her. Parks develops her nicely as he slowly pulls back the curtain on a conspiracy at work behind the scenes, which eventually ties all the storylines together in an entertaining, though slightly improbable, way.

As Melaine desperately tries to prove her innocence in order to get her son back, Brad Parks dials up the heat and throws nonstop twists and turns at readers, who’ll no doubt race through the pages to find out what happens. What makes the story so chilling is that, at times, it reads like the kind of thing that could happen to any of us. As a parent, there’s nothing scarier, and Parks uses that reality to tug at heartstrings and play with your emotions. It’s another winning formula for the underrated author, who continues to build on the success of last year’s hit thriller, Say Nothing.

Brad Parks brought his A-game. . . clear your schedule and strap in — once you start, there’s no stopping until the very end. 

Book Details

Author: Brad Parks
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1101985623
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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Me media kitPraised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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