by Elisabeth Carpenter
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, aging widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…
I absolutely love when a story hooks you from the first few pages and 99 RED BALLOONS did just that. Elizabeth Carpenter weaves a tale involving two missing girls, one from the past and one from the present into a heart-pounding thriller all while she exposes cracks in the families foundations. Fast-paced and clever 99 BALLOONS is a tale you cannot set down.
Our story begins in the town of Lincoln situated in Lincolnshire County, north of London. Eight-year-old Grace, who has recently begun walking home from school with her friends, stops at the sweet shop and never makes it home. What unfolds is a suspenseful tale that wraps the reader up and keeps you guessing.
The story is told from different perspectives. First, we have Stephanie, Grace’s Aunt who arrives at her sister’s house when Grace first goes missing. She ends up staying to support her throughout the ordeal. The second perspective comes from Maggie an aging grandmother living in Lancashire. Her five-year-old granddaughter Zoe went missing twenty some years ago. The story of young Grace reopens thoughts on Zoe’s disappearance. Carpenter then treats us to an unreliable narrator, that of a young girl. It creates a little unease as we don’t know if the voice is that of Grace or Zoe.
I found the voices of Maggie and of course the missing child to be the most interesting. I struggled to like Emma and her husband. Stephanie’s narration kept us abreast of the current missing case and cast doubt, but nothing distinguished her from the other characters. This I think was my only complaint. However, this story was more plot driven and I certainly couldn’t stop reading.
I had a million questions while reading and I love when I experience that edgy feeling of not knowing. I grasped at each red herring and began to question everyone. What were Stephanie and Emma’s husband up to? What secret is Emma keeping? Hints about the sister’s childhood came into play and left me wondering. While admittedly I did see the twist coming, watching all the pieces slip into place kept me flipping the pages until its completion.99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter delivered a heart-pounding thriller with plenty of twists. Click To Tweet
Yes, the title is in reference to the German version of 99 Balloons. Enjoy!
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