Review: Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks


Release date: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Dutton

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Disaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know.

It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood–with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex–she thought that turmoil was behind her.

Until one Monday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.”

Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever.

Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye–who has been assigned Melanie’s case–has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women.

Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation . . . or her undoing.


Part domestic suspend and part legal thriller, Closer Than You Know brought some of my worst fears as a parent to life. Imagine going to pick up your baby from the babysitter only to be told they were taken by Social Services earlier that day. Things get even worse when you go home and find your house has been raided and a substantial amount of cocaine has been found. To top it all off, you or your husband don’t do drugs and never would, this whole thing is a set up and you are utterly powerless. Your life is in shambles and you have no choices, no hope. How do you prove your innocence in a seemingly slam dunk case? It’s impossible and that’s what terrifies me.

I kept picturing myself in Melanie’s situation and couldn’t even imagine her fear and desperation. Parks did an amazing job at accurately portraying her emotional state, I could feel her pain and anguish, it broke my heart. The characterization is outstanding, besides Melanie her husband Ben is well developed and you also see things from the perspective of Amy, the lawyer working the case. I loved her and found her to be a sharp, astute woman bound by justice who’s willing to take chances in order to do what’s right.

This was relentlessly paced, there was always something going on, a new development full of twists and turns making it really hard for me to put down when real life was calling. There was enough legal excitement to keep things interesting but not so much that I was bored, this was always exciting and engaging and after two back to back amazing reads from Parks, I’ll be backing him as an author no matter what he writes next.

Closer Than You Know in three words: Complex, Thrilling and Compelling.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

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