Wednesday 16 October 2019

Come a Little Closer by Karen Perry: Clever playing with a killer instinct

Fiction: Come A Little Closer

Karen Perry

Michael Joseph, €13

Come A Little Closer
Come A Little Closer

Síle McArdle

The key to thriller writing is the ability to be relentlessly cruel: to perturb readers with savage plot turns, to tantalise with what is not said - and to keep us in jittery 'whodunnit' suspense throughout.

With Come A Little Closer, that heady sense of unease oozes from the very first page, when a blood-stained body ruptures the peace of a summer barbecue. Two decades later, the same affluent street in seaside south Dublin has a basement flat for rent at a knockdown price - and secretive Leah can barely believe her luck at the chance to set up home with boyfriend Jake.

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Inexorably Leah is drawn into the edgy world of her landlord, Anton… released from what he euphemistically calls 'The Grand State Hotel'.

The brutal truth is that, despite protesting his innocence, Anton was convicted of stabbing to death his spiteful wife, Charlotte.

Come A Little Closer is heavy on detail in places to start with, but the author is clearly developing an array of tortured relationships… and the devil is in the detail.

Leah's growing bond with Anton is rooted in her desire for redemption from a devastating past, while Anton plays upon Leah's insecurities.

When her beloved piano is water-damaged, Anton offers his; once Leah ascends to the main house, she cannot turn back. While readers may guess the denouement of Come A Little Closer, such is the author's dexterity that we are unlikely to be certain of it. What is certain, however, is that the wicked twists beforehand are entirely consistent with the cruel kindness of the cut-above thriller.

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