Thursday, 19 April 2018

Review: Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

I was attracted to this book because of the pretty cover (yes, I truly am that shallow). I thought the premise was clever: the sister of a serial killer's victim kidnaps him, hoping to coerce him into telling her where he buried her sister.

Like the main character in Rebecca, our heroine doesn't have a name. Carl, the man she believes murdered her sister, was once a famous photographer but is now in a care home supposedly suffering from dementia. She begins to visit him, pretending to be his daughter, before taking him out on 'holiday'. In reality she's planned a road trip around Texas, visiting all the locations in his photography book - the last places his victims were seen alive.

The relationship between Carl and his 'daughter' reminded me of Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, and the story itself a kind of cross between Silence of the Lambs and As Good As It Gets - even though no one falls in love, or gets eaten! I particularly loved Carl's dark sense of humour, and how the heroine's meticulously thought-out plan quickly unravels. They also meet a host of eccentric characters along the way - my favourite was Trudy, the gun-toting estate agent! 

Although the subject matter is dark, there are no scenes of graphic or gratuitous violence. The story is mostly about the mystery of the missing girls and the relationship between Carl and his 'daughter'. The places mentioned are real and the book contains 'Carl's' photographs amongst the text, which add an eerie note. Towards the end there are perhaps a couple too many coincidences, but Paper Ghosts is one of my favourite books this year - possibly ever!


Thank you to Julia Heaberlin, Michael Joseph (Penguin), and NetGalley for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

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