Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: The Distance by Helen Giltrow (audio)

Title: The Distance
Author: Helen Giltrow
Series: Charlotte Alton, #1
Narrator: Rachel Atkins
Published: September 2014, Random House Audio / Doubleday
Length: 13 hours 27 minutes / ARC e-copy 368 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible/ Netgalley

A dark, ultra-contemporary, and relentlessly paced debut thriller about a London society woman trying to put her secret criminal past behind her, and the hit man who comes to her with an impossible job she can't refuse.

Charlotte Alton is an elegant socialite. But behind the locked doors of her sleek, high-security apartment in London's Docklands, she becomes Karla. Karla's business is information. Specifically, making it disappear. She's the unseen figure who, for a commanding price, will cover a criminal's tracks. A perfectionist, she's only made one slip in her career—several years ago she revealed her face to a man named Simon Johanssen, an ex-special forces sniper turned killer-for-hire. After a mob hit went horrifically wrong, Johanssen needed to disappear, and Karla helped him. He became a regular client, and then, one day, she stepped out of the shadows for reasons unclear to even herself. 

Now, after a long absence, Johanssen has resurfaced with a job, and he needs Karla's help again. The job is to take out an inmate—a woman—inside an experimental prison colony. But there's no record the target ever existed. That's not the only problem: the criminal boss from whom Johanssen has been hiding is incarcerated there. That doesn't stop him. It's Karla's job to get him out alive, and to do that she must uncover the truth. Who is this woman? Who wants her dead? Is the job a trap for Johanssen or for her? But every door she opens is a false one, and she's getting desperate to protect a man—a killer—to whom she's inexplicably drawn. Written in stylish, sophisticated prose, The Distance is a tense and satisfying debut in which every character, both criminal and law-abiding, wears two faces, and everyone is playing a double game.

My thoughts: There's a long story to me actually getting this book read. I first heard of this book when it was selected as a She Reads selection back in the fall of 2014, which is when I first requested it from Netgalley and started reading it. But, I couldn't get into it, so I put it aside. The gals of She Reads, though, had raved about it being a great thriller, so I wanted to give it another try and decided to try the audio route.

Did I end up loving it? No, but I did like it. Charlotte Alton is a very interesting character and she is what kept me going with this book - I had to know how this book was going to play out. In a lot of ways, she reminded me a little bit of Helen Mirren's character in the Red movies (I love those movies!!!) - and the narrator, Rachel Atkins even sounded like her a bit. I loved the double life that Charlotte lived - and can't decide whether I like Charlotte or Karla better.

The overall story was intriguing but things moved fast, especially in the beginning and I found myself having to go back and start at the beginning twice. There were too many characters and it was just too hard to keep hard of who was who and what was going on. But, once I got it all straight, I was intrigued enough to know what was going to happen and why.

I think I might need to reread this book again and I think I probably will in the future. Whether I read it or listen to it again, I'm not sure, but especially since it looks like it's going to be a series, I need to take it all apart and sift through all the pieces and characters. Do you ever feel like you have to do that with a book?   

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to Rachel Atkins narrate a book. There wasn't necessarily great distinction between voices, so at times, it was hard to distinguish between characters. I felt that this was a hard one to listen to at times - you really needed to pay attention to and I had to listen to it at normal speed - I usually listen to audio books at 1.25 or even 1.5 times the speed and have no problems. 

The Distance by Helen Giltrow was one of the She Reads "Books of Fall" reading selection picks from 2014.
Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as to see what the other "Books of Fall" were from 2014.



  1. Hmmmm.... I'm intrigued by the sound of this and I love Helen Mirren (I've been wanting to see the Red movies but they just moved a little higher on my list!) so any character that reminds you of her is definitely interesting. I don't love all the characters and the difficulty with keeping everyone straight. I think if I do pick this one up I'll go the book route. I find it easier to flip back then to rewind. Thanks for sharing!


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