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Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin @juliathrillers @MichaelJBooks @ClareP42

April 19, 2018

 

Source: Netgalley

Publication: 19th April 2018 from Michael Joseph

My Sister disappeared.

I know who took her.

Now I’ve taken him.

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who once took photographs.

That was before he was tried for murder and acquitted.

Before dementia and his admission to a Texas care facility.

Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip.

Only she’s not his daughter, and, if she has her way, he’s not coming back . . .

Because Carl’s past has finally caught up with him. The woman driving the car is convinced he’s guilty, and that he’s killed other young women. Including her sister Rachel.

Now they’re driving across Texas, following his photographs, his clues, his crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. To discover what happened to Rachel.

Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he’s guilty of nothing and she’s the liar. Either way, in driving him into the Texan badlands she’s taking a terrible risk.

For if Carl really is a serial killer, she’s alone in the most dangerous place of all . .

 

Paper Ghosts is a road movie for obsessives. Grace was 12 when her older sister Rachel left one bright morning to go on a routine babysitting appointment. She never got there and has never been heard of since.

In a beautifully written, artfully crafted narrative, Julia Heaberlin  gives us a portrait of a young girl whose family was destroyed by this event and who has ever since, dedicated herself to being as brave as she can possibly be in order to find out what happened to her sister.

She has followed numerous leads, stalked many a potential killer in her quest for the truth and her best suspect is a photographer.  Carl Louis Feldman, was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Lakinski,  but she has studied his photographs and is convinced that he is the killer.

Carl is suffering from dementia, and though Grace suspects that he is by no means as frail as he pretends, he claims to be unable to remember the past. So Grace springs him from his half way house /care home by posing as a relative and takes him on a trip to see if she can jog his memory through revisiting the scenes of murders she has assigned to him  and showing him his own photographs.

This is a road trip like no other. There are both physical and metaphorical twists and turns. Grace has been training herself by going to combat and fitness classes. She has assembled a toolkit for all eventualities, but in reality she is barely mentally or physically equipped for this trip.

Haeberlin makes it work despite, or perhaps because, neither Grace nor Carl are entirely rational. In many ways this is really a very sad story, yet the trip is laced with humour and wit and the collection of strays they amass on the way is downright laugh out loud funny.

The characterisation has depth and layers, and it is good to meet characters who are neither totally black nor white in their morality. The rhythm of their journey is reflected by the sometimes slow, sometimes fast pace of the book as they delve into the past and recall is mixed with the present to bring together a picture of what happened.

The sense of place is very well done; you know those diners and motels, and the descriptions give you a real flavour of Texas even if, like me, you have never been there. Fort Worth, the scene of the devastation at Waco, Calvert, Galveston, Austin, Houston, Marfa, the deep Piney Woods all add their own smells and tales to come alive on the page.

On the road they will encounter some dubious characters; some deliberately, others less so. This really is an adventure trip writ large. As they travel, so they get to understand each other a little better, but the sense of suspense and danger that Heaberlin weaves into her writing never quite leaves the reader. That uncertainty of what Carl really is and what he will do next is as chilling a thing as you can hope to read.

You do have to suspend some disbelief, but the richness of the writing and the sheer inventiveness of the plot and structure make that effort worthwhile.  I am left with a haunting sense that will stay with me for a while.

Amazon                                                                   Waterstones

About Julia Heaberlin

juliaheaberlin

Julia Heaberlin is the author of the international bestseller Black-Eyed Susans and the upcoming Paper Ghosts, which will be released in the U.S. on May 15, 2018, and in the UK on April 19, 2018. Heaberlin’s psychological thrillers, all set in Texas, have sold to more than eighteen countries. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Playing Dead and Lie Still. As a journalist, she worked as a features editor at The Detroit News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Dallas Morning News and has always been especially interested in true crime and how events play out years later. The Star-Telegram Life & Arts section was named one of the Top 10 sections in the country during her tenure as its editor. Heaberlin, who grew up in Texas, lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she is at work on her next novel.Julia Heaberlin is the author of the international bestseller Black-Eyed Susans and the upcoming Paper Ghosts, which will be released in the U.S. on May 15, 2018, and in the UK on April 19, 2018. Heaberlin’s psychological thrillers, all set in Texas, have sold to more than eighteen countries. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Playing Dead and Lie Still. As a journalist, she worked as a features editor at The Detroit News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Dallas Morning News and has always been especially interested in true crime and how events play out years later. The Star-Telegram Life & Arts section was named one of the Top 10 sections in the country during her tenure as its editor. Heaberlin, who grew up in Texas, lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she is at work on her next novel.

You can follow Julia on Twitter @Juliathrillers

From → Crime, Mystery, Thriller

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