Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin – A Review

Publisher: Penguin, Michael James

Publication Date: 19th April 2018

When Grace’s sister Rachel disappears one day on her way to babysit some local children, life is never the same again. Whisked off her bike never to be seen again.

The assumption is she has become a victim of a suspected serial kidnapper and murderer, documentary photographer Carl Louis Feldman. Feldman is now in a kind of halfway house for old felons and may or may not have dementia.

Grace has spent years preparing herself and training to confront the man she believes killed her sister and she wants answers. Although Feldman was tried but not convicted of the murder of another missing girl, Grace is convinced he knows more than he is letting on and hatches a plan to take him on a road trip across Texas, bringing him into contact with various places and buildings to jog his memory about his assumed crimes.

Her precise and detailed plan has been constructed to ultimately allow her to find out once and for all what happened to her sister all those years ago and finally bring some answers and peace to Graces restless life.

Grace believes that Carl’s photographs of nameless girls, published in his book hold the key to the mysteries of the various disappearances. Armed with these images, supplies, a stash of cash and a gun, she poses as Carl’s daughter and takes him away on her mission.

But is Grace putting her own life in danger? Confining herself to rental trucks and motel rooms with a potential serial killer?

I devoured this book in 24 hours. Gripped right from the get go, and swept along by a quick paced action packed storyline.

The story is told throughout from Graces’s perspective. Starting from the beginning of the road trip with the finer detail being fleshed out as the trip progresses. Interspersed with chapters relating back to her childhood and the years both before and after Rachels disappearance, I enjoyed the drip feeding of the backstory.

There is a creeping insidiousness to Carl and Grace’s relationship. A tension that builds perfectly and which left my shoulders somewhere up around my ears!

There is almost a sense of claustrophobia, especially when Grace and Carl are in the rental truck together or in the adjoining hotel rooms, which Grace always insists on keeping firmly locked.

Both characters were perfectly formed. Grace, determined, strong, bloody minded and tenacious. Carl, sharp and incisive with moments of confusion and vulnerability. I felt they were both expertly written and I became fully engaged with both of them.

Short, powerful chapters mean that you seem to fly through this book and what is also a lovely touch is the black and white photographs that appear throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing read and thought the ending was perfectly written. I can see this being made into a film, but that’s just my opinion!

A solid 5 star read for me.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the chance to review this stunning book.

See you soon.

Bookish Chat xxx

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