Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book review: The Distance by Helen Giltrow

I don't normally read thrillers, but once in a while one comes along with such pedigree and reviews, that I take a shot. And Wow! The Distance was great!

Charlotte Alton goes by Karla for her business (in homage to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and she gets information for people and she also helps people disappear, by not only getting them a new identity but erasing their old one. Many of her clients are people who do "jobs" although Karla stayed a level removed from that work. And for all their clients who have seen Karla's face, they have dirt. That way if they try to take Karla down, they'll go down with her. Except one. Simon Johanssen. Simon has come to Karla for help with a job that sounds impossible: he wants to sneak into a prison in the guise of a prisoner, in order to do a job. Karla's partner doesn't want her to do it, but Simon seems to have some hold over Karla and she helps him out. But there's something seriously hinky about this job. The person he's supposed to kill doesn't seem to exist. And if that person does exist, Karla can't figure what they did to deserve this. In her effort to help Simon by finding out the details behind his job, Karla starts to get in way too deep. Can she get out?

Like any good thriller, the pacing was terrific. It starts off at a good clip and speeds up until it feels like you're racing along. Naturally, the last 100 pages or so, I just couldn't put the book down for love or money. There were excellent red herrings and blind passageways. I did have a little trouble keeping up with the many male characters (men, why must you have such boring names! I am not blaming the author for this as that's just the way society is.) But another great thing about thrillers is that the character development isn't crucial, so if you can't always keep up, so long as you keep in mind the major characters, you're okay. I don't see any plot holes looking back, as everything seems wrapped up and without loose ends, which is nice. This was a smart, tight, well-plotted thriller that felt original and creative. Highly recommended!

I checked this book out of the library.

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