⇒Can Bryce handle his high-pressure job and his high-pressure life?⇐
Author: Lee Maguire
(3.71 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller
Published October 21, 2018, by TCK Publishing
Pages: 314 (Paperback)
What happens when a psychologist is stalked? Does he or she react differently than a member of the gen pop would? Bryce Davison shows us that, in fact, they would. Or, at least, he did. Threatening emails, cryptic notes, and obvious home invasions seem to have only a momentary effect on our guy. Then it’s business as usual – conquering the mental challenges of today’s youth. He’s a machine.
OK, let me pause for a moment and say that whenever I am reviewing a book, I am honest. If I love it, I try to convey that without gushing. If it was just OK, I point out the good and bad. And if it wasn’t good, I point out that it just wasn’t the book for me. This especially goes for books that have been sent to me for review. I’m never going to say that a book is good just because I got it for free. Never, ever, ever. But constructive criticism is… well, constructive.
A simple, one-line message sent a shiver through me: Closer than you think.
Here’s the Goodreads blurb: Meet Bryce Davison, a gifted psychologist who can heal any troubled mind-except his own. You see, Bryce’s life is falling apart. His marriage is crumbling. His insomnia brings only half-sleep and troubled dreams-visions of dark and buried memories he’d rather forget or ignore completely. And the new female patient in his psych ward just might be more trouble than he’s able to cope with… and now he has a stalker. Somebody’s been watching Bryce for a long time. Somebody who knows his life inside and out-his fears, his regrets, his greatest longings and deepest despairs. Somebody with access to his most private places-his workplace, his home, his family…anywhere Bryce might have felt safe. They do their dirty work in the shadows… and they want Bryce Davison dead. So Bryce has got to get his life together. To save his patients. To save his family. To save his marriage…and his life. Because no matter how close Bryce gets to the deadly truth, the enigmatic stalker is always closer than he thinks.
Closer Than You Think was just OK. It took me a LONG time to make it through this book. Not totally the book’s fault; but it’s kind of repetitive, so that makes it easy to set down arbitrarily. The story’s premise was promising: a straight-laced, good guy pestered by a malicious mystery stalker who slowly ramps up the threat level. Captivating, right? Meh. I wanted to be sucked into the action, to feel the escalating drama, to be pushed into a proverbial corner by this secretive stalker. But the highs and lows of this book didn’t allow it. And in the end, it just felt… clinical.
…an olfactory memory stirred deep inside, teasing me. It was a peculiar sensation, like having someone’s name on the tip of your tongue.
It was also difficult to connect Bryce’s underlying backstory to the current action. Is that what makes him a good psychologist? A survivor? A victim? It’s unclear. I just ended up feeling sorry for the guy and thinking a little less of him as a hero, if I’m being honest.
Good points: Even though the antagonist was entirely predictable, there’s a perfect little twist added in that I applaud the author for. A good twist always makes mystery/thrillers rate a little higher! Another plus point is for writing in a pet that is totally believable. Max doesn’t have super powers, isn’t dynamically intelligent, or brutally vicious. She’s just a dog, but her role in the story is just as important as any of the human characters (and at least she has a different voice). Too harsh? Maybe.
To sleep, perchance to dream. Or to slip deeper into the nightmare.
Readers should be aware of some intense triggers including suicide, domestic abuse, rape, assault. The book treats these subjects delicately, but sensitive readers should be aware.
As I always say, writing a book is not an easy task. It’s a very personal process, and anyone who manages to pull it off, kudos to you! Here’s my advice to readers, try the indie authors. Pick up the paperbacks distributed by pub houses you’ve never heard of before. Explore new voices. Give debut authors a chance. You never know when you will find a favorite among them, and then you will be able to lend them support and help them develop their craft. And isn’t that what we, as readers, really want – more books to read?
Lee Maguire has practiced as a psychotherapist, behavioral health consultant, and taught master’s and doctoral level psychology. A focus of his practice was clinical hypnosis. Lee resides in central Pennsylvania with his wife and their basset hound.