Alex O’Connell – 5 Stars

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book by a Wonderful Writer, 20 Dec. 2015

It challenges its readers to consider their own conceptions of love, life, obsession and retribution.

O’Leary is a powerful, controlled writer. She fearlessly unafraid of exploring the darker side of human nature and cannot be accused of pulling her punches. Indeed she delivers them with assured aplomb of a heavyweight champ and is prepared to drop the Queensberry rules when the situation demands and follow up with a beautifully aimed Glasgow kiss worthy of the darker days of the Gorbals or Govan.

In Bane Shaw O’Leary has created a wild, reckless hero who is never far from his own demons. He is a latter day Heathcliff and will live long in the memory. His Catherine, Bronagh, is a deeply attractive foil, troubled by her own past and not without good reason. You can understand why Shaw falls for her and loves her with a consuming intensity. Their passion verges on the obsessive and is edged with more than a hint brutality.

The lovers’ obsession is mirrored and magnified by that of the sociopathic monster, Mike Allen. In him O’Leary has created a truly scary antagonist. The raw emotion is truly wonderfully depicted as the action intensifies as the story moves towards its chilling and very gory denouement. It marks out O’Leary as a writer of tremendous invention, power and sensitivity. She is definitely one to be watched.

The ‘supporting cast’ are invariably beautifully depicted and multi-faceted – vibrant and alive in their own right. O’Leary has a god given talent for breathing life into them. It’s as if they leap of the page.

It is testimony to O’Leary’s skill as a writer that the worlds she creates, whether southern Louisiana or the mean streets and tenements of Shaw’s Glasgow youth in the opening scenes, are always displayed with a vivid sense of accuracy and reality. Her writing is punctuated with vibrant local colour and detail that proves her skill as painstaking and meticulous researcher. She is second to none and clearly has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music for good measure.

It strikes me that Closer to Home would make a fabulous movie. Maybe Gerard Butler as Shaw and I have an idea who would make a perfect Bronagh. I for one would buy tickets.

Closer to Home is a brilliant read – it is thought provoking and O’Leary is a brave writer who does not shy away from amazing, graphic descriptions of the darker facets of human nature. It challenges its readers to consider their own conceptions of love, life, obsession and retribution. All in all, this is a really great story, really beautifully crafted and told. I just hope that Ms O’Leary writes quickly as I can’t wait for a sequel.