Closer Than You Know
by Parks, Brad

Enduring a brutal foster-care upbringing, Melanie embarks on an adult life that she hopes will allow her to leave the past behind, only to be framed for drug charges that threaten her ability to keep her baby, a situation that is aided by an attorney who wants to solve the cold case of a serial rapist. By the Shamus Award-winning author of Say Nothing.

Brad Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus, Nero, and Lefty Awards, three of crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes. A former reporter with The Washington Post and The Star-Ledger (Newark), he lives in Virginia with his wife and two children. His previous novel, Say Nothing, was named both a Library Journal and a Kirkus Best Book of 2017.

Parks builds his thriller on a foundation of near-implausibilities. Melanie Barrick is a rape victim impregnated by the rapist. She gives birth to the rapist's child. Keeps him. Adores him. Melanie's husband is similarly devoted to the child. Readers who can't accept this premise and abandon the book will be missing a fine suspense novel. Melanie returns home from work and discovers her child has been taken from her by the state. Then her house is sealed with crime-scene tape, and she learns that the cops, acting on a tip, have found in the house a stash of cocaine so big they conclude she must be a dealer. Before her streak of rotten luck has ended, she's accused of murder, tossed into prison, and deserted by her husband. Help comes from an unlikely source, prosecutor Amy Kaye, who is handling Melanie's case but senses uncanny connections between the drug bust and the rape. The mix produces some mighty courtroom scenes and introduces a surprise hero: a dumpy defense attorney who has motives of his own. A diverting, exciting read, with an ending you won't see coming. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A Virginia mom dutifully treading the path toward middle-class respectability is thrown down the rabbit hole when she's accused of drug dealing and worse.Despite having been taken from an abusive father and grown up in a series of group homes and foster homes, Melanie Barrick seems to have landed on her feet. While she works as a dispatcher at Diamond Trucking, her husband, Ben, studies history at James Madison University, where his mentor is grooming him for a tenure-track job, and her 3-month-old son, Alex, is taking baby steps toward becoming his own person. The wrecking ball is lowered on Melanie's life when she's late picking up Alex at day care and learns that Social Services has already spirited him away after hearing that the Augusta County Sheriff's Office has found nearly half a kilo of cocaine hidden in the boy's nursery together with all the evidence they need to convict Melanie of intent to sell. In short order, Melanie is arrested for assaulting a police officer , hauled off to jail, and threatened with five years in prison. Her Social Services hearing is over before it begins, and the preliminary hearing on the criminal charges goes no better. Things couldn't possibly get any worse—unless she finds out that Ben has been lying to her for months about a very important subject and she's charged with the murder of a man she's only seen once before. Deputy commonwealth attorney Amy Kaye, pulled off the case of a serial rapist to slam the prison door on the Coke Mom so that her incompetent, politically minded boss, Aaron Dansby, can burnish his resume and run for higher office, smells a rat, but her attempts to undermine the case against Melanie are as unavailing as her attempts to link the Coke Mom to the Whispering Rapist.Parks (Say Nothing, 2017, etc.) dishes out another irresistible descent into hell for a heroine who regards her harrowing plight with a sobering verdict: "It was like hitting a new bottom every day." Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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