As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Orion, 8 May 2014. ISBN: 978 1 4091 2621
Charlotte Alton is a wealthy,
idle socialite. But she is also two other people. There’s Karla who runs a
surveillance agency which operates very much under the radar, obtaining
unauthorised data by bribery, blackmail and theft, deliberately destroying data
potentially useful to law enforcement agencies, forging or deleting identities.
And there’s Laura Pressinger with links to covert intelligence agencies in the
UK and the US. Only one person knows that Charlotte is also Karla and that is
Simon Johanssen, ex-army special ops. Eight years ago Simon was involved in the
kidnapping of a petty criminal which went grievously wrong when the victim died
horribly under torture. The victim’s boss, gangland boss John Quillan, dealt
with three of the four perpetrators; Karla had got Simon away before Quillan
could exact retribution on him too. Now Simon comes to Karla; he wants to get
into a place known as the Program, a privately-run high-security prison
comprising an entire abandoned council housing estate. It isn’t like other
prisons: the concept is that the inmates will function within a self-regulating
society, thus achieving enhanced individual liberty and responsibility within a
secure environment. Simon is now a contract hitman, and his target is a woman,
name unknown, identity apparently erased from all records. And there is an
added problem: the Program, so far from being the shining success that had been
hoped for, is dominated by Quillan who is now serving a lengthy sentence and
his enforcer, the psychopathic Brice. If Quillan knows that Simon is in the
Program, Simon’s life will be very short. So Simon needs a new identity which
Karla, although she is gradually distancing herself from her life as Karla,
But who is the mysterious target? What had she done to result in
becoming a target? And who precisely wants her dead? And why? And, once Simon
and Karla have identified her, is there a connection between her and the
various people, some connected with the intelligence services, some apparently
not, who knew her?
This first novel is a remarkable achievement. Although the style is
somewhat disjointed - clearly deliberately so - the multitude of narrative
threads do eventually tie up. The nightmarish setting is surreal, possibly
futuristic, and yet in the context totally believable.
A difficult and demanding read, but well worth it. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Helen Giltrowis 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. The
Distance is her first novel.