Originally published: 11 July 2019
Author: Paul Burston
Published by: Orenda Books
Length: 312 pages
Reading dates: 28-30 June 2019
Tom Hunter is a successful novelist – his first book was a major hit, his second not so much. Now he is being stalked by Evie, a young woman who he met at a book signing. Evie is well-read, clever but unstable. She lives with her father and her only interactions with the world appear to be through social media. She writes a blog and enjoys antagonising people on Twitter.
When she is taken to court by Tom, she is hit with a restraining order and her life is turned upside down. Tom on the other hand is free to return to writing, yet he is still anxious about Evie, despite the court ruling.
Told from both Tom’s and Evie’s points of view this is a cracking read. I literally polished this off in two sittings! Neither Tom nor Evie are very likeable. Although I had some sympathy for Tom, he doesn’t appear to be a very nice person, taking his only real friend Emma for granted. Evie is a sad character, having had an unhappy childhood with a mother who didn’t love her. But she also seems to be one of those people who like to argue for the sake of it and love to have disagreements.
It made me realise how having a stalker, even a remote one who targets their obsessive behaviour through social media and email can still have a devastating effect on someone’s mental health.
I never quite trusted what either character was telling me which added to the uneasy nature of this read. Tom’s paranoia really shone through and I felt quite anxious while reading this.
The beginning of the book is set in Tom’s home town of London and the second half is set in Hastings, where Tom decides to stay after the court case, in the hope a change of scenery will help him write another bestseller. I liked Tom’s unlikely friendship with his downstairs neighbour in Hastings – Colin, an elderly gay man. There are many mentions of homophobia both in the present (with Tom) and in the past with Colin and how even now, Tom doesn’t feel entirely comfortable making it obvious he is gay, always feeling a little vulnerable.
A current and believable read, I found this twisty and compelling. It really made me questions my own usage of social media! While I am on Twitter, I don’t tend to get into arguments! I’m very much about the books and bookish Twitter for the most part is just lovely and supportive but I am well aware of how quickly the tide can turn.
This was a dark and disturbing read, a twisty turny thriller that is a serious contender to be one of the best thrillers I have read so far this year!
Many thanks to Karen at Orenda for sending me a copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour. Be sure to checkout the other stops below…
About the author:
Paul Burston is a British journalist and author. Born in York and raised in South Wales, Burston attended Brynteg Comprehensive School and studied English, Drama and Film Studies at university. He worked for the London gay policing group GALOP and was an activist with ACT-UP before moving into journalism. He edited, for some years, the gay and lesbian (later LGBT) section of Time Out magazine.
His first novel Shameless, published in 2001, was praised by The New York Times.
He has since published four more novels and two short story collections. He is the founder and host of award-winning LGBT literary salon Polari at the Southbank Centre, and founder of The Polari First Book Prize for new LGBT writing.
In October 2018 The Bookseller announced that his new crime novel ‘The Closer I Get’ will be published by Orenda Books in 2019 as part of a two book deal.