Author – Helen Giltrow
Published – 2015 (paperback)
Genre – Thriller
Name a female thriller writer. No, not crime fiction, not psychological thriller, a plain old-fashioned thriller. Come on… Not easy is it? If you make that British female thriller writers…? Well the good news is that you can add Helen Giltrow’s name to a very short list.
Charlotte Alton is a single woman about town, wealthy, sophisticated – no one would suspect that this is a front and that she is also known as Karla, who buys and sells secrets, and gets people new identities. The story is told from several perspectives, but Karla / Charlotte is the main one. She’s strong and driven and human and fallible. She is contracted to get a man inside The Program, a futuristic, experimental prison, to find a woman who doesn’t exist. If this isn’t intriguing enough, the man that she will be sending into the prison is someone she has an emotional attachment to. And all of this takes place while a US Secret Agent is in London to root out an informant who has an uncanny knack of selling high quality information.
It takes place over a month and there’s lots of pace and action but it’s also brutal and there are some graphic scenes of violence. There are multiple threads and it’s easy to occasionally wonder where the particular storyline is heading, but Giltrow doesn’t let the reader down and they are all tied up (except the few that are left for the second book!). There’s more than a nod to traditional cold war spy escapades but there are plenty of aspects that bring the story bang up to date.
I really enjoyed Giltrow’s writing style, there is something about the detail that she includes that reminds me of Nicci French – perhaps in a previous life their Frieda Klein was a spy! This is a great, intelligent thriller and an outstanding debut.
You can see another point of view from Crime Thriller Girl. Many thanks to the author for the copy of the book.