Run Time (2022) by Catherine Ryan Howard

Adele Rafferty, former soap opera star, has one last chance for stardom. She had all but given up on her acting career when out of the blue, an offer is made to her. A small independent horror film, Final Draft, is to be made in Ireland in the middle of nowhere. The production has only a skeleton staff, but it could be the opportunity to relaunch her career.

The film is about a couple arriving in a cabin, only for the woman to find a copy of a book, First Draft, about a couple staying in a similar cabin. As the events in the book begin to happen to her in real life… well, you get the idea. Meanwhile, in the real world, as Adele starts to read the script, it seems that another layer has been added to the intrigue – as the events in the script seem to be happening to her as well…

This one definitely falls into the “less you know in advance, the better” category. I suppose that it could be classed as a woman-in-peril thriller, as the book focusses almost entirely on Adele, when it’s not treating you to script excerpts from Final Draft, but as you might expect from Catherine Ryan Howard if you’ve read any of her books, this is something a little different from what you might expect.

It’s sort of like reading an avalanche. The opening third has some ominous rumblings, the middle section has you desperately trying to avoid the snow and the final third constantly drops massive lumps of ice and snow/plot reveals on you until you don’t quite know which way to look. Yes, that’s a rubbish metaphor, but Catherine’s the writer, not me.

This is one of those books where you can’t think for a moment that it can possibly make sense as a coherent mystery-thriller and then everything comes together in a completely unexpected way. And I think the “mystery” tag is correct, as while I don’t think this is something the reader can solve, almost every revelation has something earlier that leads into it.

“The queen of high-concept crime fiction” reads a quote on the cover of my proof copy. It’s very easy to read that and think this is going to be something weird and incomprehensible, but far from it. This is yet another cleverly constructed thriller layered with original ideas that will grip you from beginning to end.

Run Time is out from Corvus in ebook and hardback on Thursday 11th August. Many, many thanks to Catherine and Corvus for the advance review copy (complete with funky cover)

More from Catherine Ryan Howard:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.