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.The Distance by Helen Giltrow
Narrator: Rachel Atkins
Published by Random House on September 9, 2014
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
Length: 13 hours, 27 minutes
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.
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.
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!