Capsule review

THE DISTANCE. By Helen Giltrow. Doubleday. 357 pages. $26.95.

“The Distance” is a book for those who like violent jigsaw puzzles.

Simon Johanssen, who we’re supposed to be rooting for, has to get into an experimental prison to kill someone. He needs the help of a woman who sometimes goes by the name of Charlotte Alton; she runs a business that provides assistance for criminals.

Alton, Johanssen and the woman marked for death all have terrible things in their pasts, and the reader has to piece together those pasts at the same time all the characters are piecing together the present, because there’s something wrong about this job.

If they don’t figure out what’s wrong and how to deal with it, the bad guys (as opposed to the killer for hire and the criminal enabler) will win. Also, if they mess this up, either Alton and Johanssen likely will be dead, which would be a shame since they’re in love with each other despite never having so much as held hands.

Confusing and complicated? Absolutely. But by the middle of the book, it’s absolutely worth the effort to take this character and situation and think back 60 pages to tie it to that character and situation because you simply must find out what happens in the current situation.

Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.