Audiobook Review: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Penguin Audio (April 21, 2020)
Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
Narrators: Elizabeth Knowelden, Susan Duerden, Steve West
Some of the best thrillers are based on the unpredictable responses of people to disastrous situations of their own making. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you Exhibit A: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen. Packed with dirty secrets, juicy scandals, and characters who can’t seem to stop fucking up their lives at every turn, this one started off in fits and starts but actually ended up being quite entertaining.
At the heart of this tale are two couples. Ruby is married to Tom, but she is having an affair with her boss Harry, who is married to Emma. Ruby and Harry have been seeing each other for a while now, and they’ve finally decided to leave their spouses in order to start a new life. But on the day Ruby was supposed to meet Harry at their hotel to go through their plan together, he never shows up. Having already told Tom that she was going to divorce him, Ruby is terrified that something has happened to Harry and tries calling him to no avail. Harry would not return any of her calls or emails, and the next day, Ruby shows up to work only to find out her contract had been terminated. Her life suddenly in shambles, Ruby has no choice but to rent a cheap apartment and start looking for a new job, all the while wondering what has happened to her lover.
Meanwhile, the story also unfolds via POV chapters from Emma, Harry’s wife. She’s had suspicions about her husband and his beautiful young personal assistant Ruby for a while, but doesn’t want to believe it. As the plot pushes ever onward toward its climax and conclusion, however, it is revealed that not all is as it seems.
The Closer You Get is probably best described as a slow-burn thriller, as the tension gradually grows and bubbles to the surface. The mystery deepens as Ruby starts receiving terrifying prank phone calls and feeling like she is being stalked. While she’s certainly not a protagonist worthy of sympathy, considering her role in the affair, the story still does an impressive job making the reader fear for her safety. But lest you think you’ll find a more sympathetic character in Emma, the wronged woman…well, let me disabuse you of that notion right now, because some not so flattering details about her are revealed from her perspective as well. Like I was saying, this book is just full of fucked up people who do fucked up things.
That said, I do feel that the story is weakened somewhat because it reveals all its cards a little too early. This makes The Closer You Get a rather wobbly thriller in terms of pacing, with an intro that starts off too slow, and a middle that robs the reader of any true surprises. The premise itself isn’t too unique, so I doubt anyone would have trouble predicting the outcome of the story, and the long denouement following the climax was also way too drawn out, spoiling its effect and impact.
Fortunately, the sheer amount of drama this novel throws at us makes up for a lot of these pacing issues. The switches between Ruby and Emma’s POVs had the effect of keeping the interest high by showing multiple aspects of the conflict. The little revelations they provided also fleshed out the character backgrounds and explained their lives at home, so even if you can’t bring yourself to actually like them, at the very least you can understand what motivated their actions.
Ultimately, as domestic psychological thrillers go, The Closer You Get is neither the most original nor the most gripping, but it does offer a fascinating angle on marriage and relationships, as well as the extreme lengths people can go when they feel trapped. Bottom line, this is a story that boils down to characters making poor choices and their consequences, and while the pacing could have been better, I still ended up enjoying this book much more than I thought.
Audiobook Comments: Only a short section in the beginning was narrated by Steve West, which was a pity, since I love his voice! Elizabeth Knowelden and Susan Duerden delivered wonderful performances as our main characters though, and I’m glad they went with two narrators to give Ruby and Emma each a unique voice.