I Got with the Program in The Distance by Helen Giltrow

Posted January 13, 2015 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 4 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I Got with the Program in The Distance by Helen GiltrowThe Distance by Helen Giltrow
Narrator: Rachel Atkins
Published by Random House on September 9, 2014
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
Format: Audiobook
Length: 13 hours, 27 minutes
Source: Publisher
Audio | Goodreads

Charlotte Alton has put her old life behind her. The life where she bought and sold information, unearthing secrets buried too deep for anyone else to find, or fabricating new identities for people who need their histories erased.

But now she has been offered one more job. To get a hit-man into an experimental new prison and take out someone who according to the records isn't there at all. It's impossible. A suicide mission. And quite possibly a set-up.

So why can't she say no?

I won’t go into a lot of background detail, not because it isn’t important (it is) but because it would tell a big chunk of the story. Here’s an abbreviated attempt.


Quick summary
Charlotte Alton is a sophisticated Londoner with a secret identity. As Karla, her skill is in making information vanish. When a man from her past, Simon Johannsen, enlists her help in creating an identity to infiltrate an unusual prison called The Program, she uses her network to help him. He’s an assassin contracted to find a woman hiding there but Karla becomes worried when she can’t find any information about her. And, she determines Simon is seriously at risk.


Story review
In the beginning, things moved rather quickly, almost too fast as there are many characters in the present with back stories told at breakneck speed. And, the roles weren’t always clear. Once I got past that, I was hooked into the intrigue and fearful for Simon’s undercover role, with lots of twists and surprises.

It’s quite a web of intrigue but maybe a bit ambitious. It took too long for the story to unfold, focusing more on The Program versus the characters, making it tough to get fully connect with any of them. By the time it reached the climax, I was just ready for the story to end, though I was pulling for Simon.


Unfortunately, this was the catalyst for my pacing issues. There was little in the way of character distinction and Atkins rushed through the important prologue so quickly I had to use the Kindle preview to reread it. A stronger performer would have done the book better justice.


The bottom line
This is an impressive debut novel, despite my issues. I enjoy complex plots and intrigue and this story certainly provided that and more. I don’t regret having read it and two months later, I’m still thinking about the ending.



Listen to an excerpt!

About Helen Giltrow

HELEN GILTROW is a former bookseller and freelance editor whose writing has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and the Daily Telegraph’s Novel in a Year Competition in the United Kingdom. She lives in Oxford, England. This is her first novel.

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Co-Blogger/Full Time Reviewer at The Book Nympho
I LOVE reading and am just crazy about so many series and writers. I’m open to exploring new authors and genres and appreciate those who not only write well but can deliciously craft a character and a tale. Your suggestions for new authors and titles are very much welcomed.

I also love to talk about books. There’s nothing more exciting than to finish a great story and cover it A to Z with other people, exploring different perspectives and points of view. So, if you see something on my shelf you’d like to talk about, send me a message and we’ll talk!

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4 responses to “I Got with the Program in The Distance by Helen Giltrow

  1. It’s shame this didn’t work 100%, I know a 3 star rating is not bad, but now with all that is out there is hard to commit to starting a story that you’re not expecting to blow you away. The premise sounds very interesting, but it does sound like the narrator didn’t render it the best way possible. Not having a big distinction for the characters and the the wrong pace are always a deal breaker me, mostly the first.
    Thanks Jonetta, I guess we’re not going to love every book and, but in our case (listeners) it’s not just the story that has to be good.

    • Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

      I debated about rating it a 1/2 star higher, not completely certain if the narration impacted the story in my mind. But, after much reflection, I think my story rating stands. There was too much I still didn’t know about these main characters in the end.

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Pacing—the great stopper of enjoying books and yes I agree sometimes the narrator can be the catalyst for that *sigh*. Still it sounds like an interesting twist on the romantic suspense genre!