Paper Ghosts

Paper Ghosts

by Julia Heaberlin

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Overview

A Texas map marked with three red dots like drops of blood. A serial killer who claims to have dementia. A mysterious young woman who wants answers. What could go wrong?

FINALIST FOR THE ITW THRILLER AWARD • “Fast and furious . . . You’ll never see what’s coming.”—The Washington Post

 
Years ago, her sister Rachel vanished. Now she is almost certain the man who took Rachel sits in the passenger seat beside her. He claims to have dementia and no memory of murdering girls across Texas in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. To find the truth, she proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip with a possible serial killer to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs. Is he a liar or a broken old man? Is he a pathological con artist—or is she? You won’t see the final, terrifying twist spinning your way until the very last mile.
 
Praise for Paper Ghosts
 
Paper Ghosts is a riveting summer read that shows Texas in a powerfully intimate light.” The Austin Chronicle
 
“[An] artful and elegiac psychological thriller . . . riveting.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“[Paper Ghosts] elevates the often tawdry genre of the serial killer novel to a work of art.”Sunday Express (UK)
  
“Texas has yet again bred a major American noir writer.”D Magazine
 
[Heaberlin has] developed a distinctive literary voice, one that is on full display in Paper Ghosts.”—Houston Chronicle
 
“Entertainingly unnerving.”The Dallas Morning News

“Strong characterisation, haunting images, a wonderful sense of place, and some dark comedy make this travelogue-cum-psychological thriller well worth the read.”The Guardian

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804178044
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 112,950
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Julia Heaberlin is the author of the critically acclaimed Black-Eyed Susans, a USA Today and Times (U.K.) bestseller. Her psychological thrillers, including Playing Dead and Lie Still, have been sold in more than fifteen countries. Heaberlin is also an award-winning journalist who has worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Detroit News, and The Dallas Morning News. She grew up in Texas and lives with her family near Dallas/Fort Worth, where she is at work on her next novel.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Who the hell are you?”

I slide my queen one space closer to his king. “You know who I am.”

He swipes his right arm, the one that still fully cooperates, across the board. A single, swift movement. Pieces fly, bounce off the carpet, rattle into corners fuzzed with dust from a past decade. I don’t flinch, something I’m practiced at. Neither does the only other occupant of the room, a deaf woman knitting an infinite patch of blue. Or green or gold or pink. It could be any color.

She doesn’t have needles. Her hands work the air methodically while her invisible work piles up like an accordion. A wedding veil sits crookedly on the silvery threads struggling out of her scalp. The second hand on a plastic clock above her head jerks.

I’ve wanted to rip that clock off the wall on every visit. Time for the people in this house is meaningless. No need to travel beyond the triple-locked front door or wonder who or what made the three long white scratches that run down its wood veneer. No good reason to think about the people who never visit you or the horrible things you’ve done. So what if you can’t remember that you never liked dark bananas or the canned laughter of I Love Lucy but now you eat one while watching the other?

I wonder what Carl is thinking. Maybe about how he’d like to kill me. I’m twenty-four, in the age range. White. Slender. People say I look like my sister. The difference is, she was lit from the inside. Dramatic. Gutsy. A performer. People drifted to her. Loved her. Carl drifted to her, and snatched her life.

Maybe he thinks I am my sister come back to haunt him.

I am the understudy, Carl. A shell of her, loaded with dynamite, set on revenge. The nervous one in the wings about to jump onstage. You and I, we will be co-stars.

I am also a perfect stranger every time I come here, or he’s lying. Each time, he claims to forget my name. He won’t answer when I ask why, in June, he is wearing a Christmas tie leering with Grinch faces, or tell me where he bought his leaden, ancient boots, or the prettiest place he remembers they last took him. Boots always remind me of vistas. Of standing firm and steady on a dangerous precipice while beauty unfolds for miles before your eyes.

He’s unimpressed by any of my random musings on boots, or the Walt Whitman and John Grisham I read him by the only sunny window in this house, or the series of jokes about talking cows that I tell while we take walks around the neighborhood. Things any loved one would do. This afternoon at IHOP, I watched him drown his pancakes in strawberry syrup and knife them into a precise patchwork of bites. I wanted to ask, Does the syrup remind you of blood?

He’s trying to make me think his eyes are glimpses into a dark solar system where he retreats, alone, but I won’t be fooled. I wonder what he sees in mine. Anything familiar?

He’s a hell of an actor, according to old court testimony.

Right now, with a harmless bit of violence, he’s reminding me that he’s still strong. Relevant. I already know. I’ve studied him carefully. Weighed the risks. Searched his room while he was in the shower and found his secret stash hidden in a battered suitcase under the bed—the red rubber exercise band that keeps up that knotty little bulge on his right forearm, and the ten-pound free weights. The sharpened pocketknife and the silver lighter with the engraved N, tucked into the zipper pocket along the back with a single cigarette.

The 8X10 photograph, pressed carefully flat, under the lining. It could be 1920, or two years ago. Carl the photographer, whose Time Travel book of surreal images once hit the bestseller list, specializes in timeless. The corners of the paper are soft, and there’s a white crease in the middle that cuts the girl in two. She’s standing on a barren rusty landscape that’s probably never sucked up a drop of rain.

A tiny silver key charm nestles in her throat. The same key that I know hangs out of sight, somewhere in the graying curl of his chest hair. I saw it once, when it slipped out of his shirt and dangled over the chessboard. Is she one of his victim’s, too?

Old serial killers who roam free have to land somewhere, of course. I’ve thought about this a lot. They must get tired. Decide to pamper roses or grandchildren. Break hips and suffer heart attacks. Go impotent. Run out of money. Don’t see the car coming. Put guns to their heads.

The killers who publicly beat the system, and the unseen monsters who are never caught and slip around like silent, pulsing background music. Screeching oboes and pounding drums. Only a few ever hear their soundtrack, right at the very end, and then it’s too late.

It took a long, long time to find the man I believe killed my sister. Years. Dozens of interviews. Hundreds of suspects. Thousands of documents. Reading, stalking, stealing. It’s been a singular, no-holds-barred obsession since I was twelve and my sister’s bike didn’t make it the three miles in broad daylight from our house to her summer babysitting job. It was morning.

Two sweet little boys, Oscar and Teddy Parker, were waiting for her on the other end. Hard to believe, but they are in high school now. Several months ago, their mother found my address and mailed Oscar’s college application essay with a note saying she hoped she was right to send it.

I wasn’t sure. I didn’t unfold the piece of paper right away. I had no idea what it would say—I just knew that my sister was the subject. I tucked it in the frame of my bathroom mirror. I didn’t like thinking of her life as something to be critiqued and rated by college admissions personnel.

It took me a month to work up the courage. Nothing, Oscar wrote, was ever the same. I was only five, but her disappearance changed everything. I wore the friendship bracelet we made together until the threads wore through and it fell off. No babysitter ever lived up to her. If I’m honest, no girl ever has. No assurance will make me feel safe again, yet I think of her every time I need to be brave. She’s the reason I want to major in criminal justice.

I’d always thought of how deeply my sister’s death affected my family. Me. Even my physical body never felt the same, as if every cell was chemically changed, forever tweaked to high alert.

I’d never once thought of the pain of the two little boys who begged her to read Harry Potter because she was so good at the voices. When Mrs. Parker called at 9:22 a.m. to ask why Rachel hadn’t shown up, I was getting out the flour to make chocolate chip cookies.

My parents, both accountants, had left for work fifteen minutes before. I was twelve, charged with cleaning the house and making dinner in the summer. It was a normal day in a normal house.

Is Rachel sick? Mrs. Parker had asked on the phone. She wasn’t mad, I remember, just concerned. Does she have a fever?

An accident, I thought immediately. A car ran into her bike. She’s unconscious somewhere. The canister fell out of my hands onto the floor, scattering its powder across the black tile.

No one cleaned it up for a long time. In the chaos that followed, people tracked flour all over our house, footprints that stayed for weeks. Months later, there was still the light whisper of them. It was like Rachel was there with us, walking around as a ghost.

Now that I’m finally here with Carl, making my move, I wonder for the last time if I should call it all off. I’ve told no one of my plan to steal him out of this place and find the truth.

It wouldn’t be the first promise I’ve broken to myself. The girl in his suitcase, with the tiny key to nothing, seemed to be begging me with her eyes to leave and not look back.

I don’t want to think about what Carl could still do with two good hands.

The air conditioner clunks on. A lukewarm breeze is blowing out of the vent in the ceiling. The wedding veil drifts, a cobweb caressing a wrinkled cheek.

I kneel down to pick up the chess pieces and disappear under the card table.

“Who the hell are you?” He’s shouting now, pounding the card table so it jars the top of my head. His boot shoots out, and he presses down purposefully on my hand until it hurts. I jerk my fingers back, refuse to cry out, open my fist to the lowliest piece on the board. A pawn, of course.

“I’m your daughter,” I lie.

It’s the only logical way to get him in my custody.

Who the hell are you?

2

Ten visits in, I set my plan in motion. Carl is still adamant I’m not his daughter, but he’s remembering my name now, at least the pseudonym I gave him. I casually suggest that we take a little vacation. A couple of weeks, I promise him. A breather. We can get to know each other better. You can have a break from this claustrophobic prison.

“If I go, will you let me use a pen?” he asks. “Mrs. T has banned me from pens. She figures I might stick one in somebody’s throat.”

“And that would be a damn mess for me to clean up,” Mrs. T confirms from the doorway to the kitchen. Her “jiggling Polish behind,” as Carl calls it, always shows up silently and perfectly timed.

But it was Mrs. T who took him in thirteen months ago. Hers was the only halfway house of old felons that would say yes to a possible serial killer with dementia after a Waco cop found him rambling the highway.

The famous documentary and fine-art photographer Carl Louis Feldman, suspected of stalking young women and stealing them for years, said he couldn’t remember his own name. It took fingerprints and a sample of DNA to do that. A local hospital guessed a diagnosis of early onset dementia and sent him back out into the world.

Because even if he was “damn-sure-fire a sick Ted Bundy with a camera and a Ford pickup truck,” as a prosecutor once pounded out to a Texas jury, the state just didn’t care anymore.

He was declared not guilty in that missing girl case—the only one he was tried for, the only one with a bit of incriminating DNA evidence. Two days of deliberating, and the jury said he was good to go. And go he did, hiding out for years like a brown recluse in some dark corner while I patted my foot impatiently until he crawled out.

Who knew I’d end up here—crammed so tightly on a sagging couch with my sister’s killer and a woman who knits imaginary things that we can feel each other’s heat. The wedding veil is missing today, but her fingers are flying in frantic rhythm like there’s a whip at her back.

The other occupants of the house are scattered in the kitchen, the bedrooms, the bathrooms—away from the soundtrack of the TV, which starts the day at 6 a.m. The relentless, high-pitched buzz from deep inside its guts lives in my head for hours after I leave.

Carl rips his eyes from the screen in front of us, a Discovery Channel special. We have just learned about a tarantula that can exist for two years without eating.

Carl twists toward me, the bone of his knee purposely jutting into my thigh. I imagine that same knee holding Rachel down. I’m suddenly glad, for her sake, that the woman beside me is deaf and, for my sake, that her dangerously sharp needles are imaginary.

Carl’s hand drifts up. Mrs. T is gone. He’s going to touch me. I’m going to let him. Whatever he wants. Whatever it takes.

He slides the rough pads of his middle and index fingers lightly down my cheek while I stare ahead at the hairy spider on TV, now warring with a lizard.

Carl traces my chin, my ear. He drifts to my neck. When he reaches the hollow place beside my windpipe, he presses his two fingers into my flesh harder than he needs to.

“Bump, bump,” he says. “Bump, bump. That’s your carotid.”

I nod, swallowing hard. I know intimately about the carotid artery from reading hundreds of medical examiner reports. Its three layers—the intima, media, and adventitia. How the two carotids in the neck carry ninety percent of the blood to the brain. The TV shows aren’t lying. A ruthless jab to one of them can cause death in bare minutes.

Carl keeps his fingers glued to my throat even when there’s a rapid knock on the front door. Two shrill rings of the bell.

I bend down for my purse so Carl is forced to pull his hand back. So I can catch my breath and smooth out the loathing and humiliation on my face that I hope he hasn’t seen. My fingers scramble in my purse. I hear the creak of floorboards, the swish of Mrs. T’s skirt, the noisy clanks as she opens the myriad latches on the front door.

When I sit back up, the visitor is stepping over the threshold, a dark-haired teenager named Lolita with a rose tattoo etched on the delicate underside of her wrist. Lolita visits every Wednesday—the granddaughter of one of Mrs. T’s boarders. She has done a good job of trying to forget that her grandfather once set a house fire with six people inside. He’s docile now. Only out of prison because no one died.

I’ve noticed that Lolita keeps her head down around Carl. Today is no exception. As usual, she’s wearing a scarf stamped with pink and white snails. One time, the scarf was tied around her ponytail, another, scrunched through her belt loops. Today it dangles loosely around her neck. I overheard her tell Mrs. T that the scarf was a Christmas gift from her grandfather. She wears it to help him remember who she is.

Mrs. T and Lolita drift out of the room, chattering, without speaking to us. I hand Carl the pen from my purse, a favorite one with the ink that glides like blue oil.

“As requested,” I say. “So you will come?” I sound a little more pleading and hopeful than I’d like. Maybe more like a daughter. Maybe that’s good.

He jams the pen in the waist of his jeans, baring the intimate flash of black hair below his belly button. My heartbeat punches against my throat, harder even than when he pressed his fingers there.

Reading Group Guide

1. The truth about Carl and the protagonist behind the wheel unfolds with every mile. Did you find yourself rooting for one or the other—or both?

2. In the age of Facebook, Instagram, and smartphone cameras, how much do you think photos lie or tell the truth? Are photographs becoming more important than ever in documenting our culture or do they increasingly present a facade?

3. Do you have a favorite photograph—from a book, a newspaper, or your own photo album—that is stamped in your mind forever? What qualities change a photograph from just a picture to something artistic and timeless?

4. Do you relate personally to any of the issues raised about dementia?

5. After reading this book, do you have a different opinion about the explosive standoff between the Branch Davidians and the government?

6. Heaberlin likes to inject humor into her novels despite their grim subject matter. She likes the comic relief—even for herself as she writes—and thinks that it reflects real life. Do you agree?

7. Have you seen or heard of Marfa’s Mystery Lights? Do you believe they are something otherworldly?

8. Have you visited any of the places on Paper Ghosts’ creepy Texas road trip? If not, after reading this book, where would you want to visit?

9. Do you agree with this quote from Dostoyevsky: “Bad people are to be found everywhere, but even among the worst there may be something good”? If so, name some real-life examples, dead or alive.

10. Along the same lines: How did you feel about Carl, in the end? Are you still deciding?

Customer Reviews

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Paper Ghosts 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book very much. I was somewhat ambivalent until I finished the first fifty pages. Then I could not stop reading. We come across an old and a somewhat senile man accused of a horrific crime. A girl comes calling claiming to be the man's daughter. Together they take a road trip as she attempts to figure out if her father is guilty of murder. The man claims that he cannot remember anything while his daughter thinks that he may be a killer. The plot is twisty and full of unpredictability which makes this book one of the most entertaining that I have read in quite a while.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I+really+enjoyed+this+book.+I+almost+cheated+by+reading+the+last+chapter++first%2C+but+glad+I+didn%27t+.+Since+I+grew+up+in+West+Texas%2C+it+was+fun+reading+about+towns+in+Texas.+I++highly+recommend++this++mystery+%21+%21%21
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Since Grace’s older sister disappeared years ago, Grace has been doing everything she can to figure out what had happened to her. She has been following cases, stalking, interviewing, training, and keeping voluminous files. Now ,years later, Grace has found Carl in a halfway house. He is a renowned photographer and her main suspect. He also has dementia, or does he? She believes that Carl killed her sister all those years ago. Now, to enact her plan… Posing as his daughter, Grace takes him on a trek to places where he has shot some eerie photos, places where he might have killed some girls. She hopes this may help him to remember. She just has to know. The most unforgettable aspect of this story is Heaberlin’s wonderful characters. All of them came to life on her pages. However, Grace’s excessive behaviors prior to and after her sister’s death, struck me as a little crazy. I started wondering if Grace was imagining things. This interesting psychological mystery is told through Grace’s narration. It is insightful and interesting. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
jmchshannon More than 1 year ago
By all accounts, Paper Ghosts should be a good novel. With its cat-and-mouse tale between potential serial killer and potential victim/victim's sister, you would think this would be a novel that gets your heart pounding and your pulse racing. This should be a book you read in one sitting. And yet, it is anything but that. Instead, it is a novel that is so introspective that it is boring. It is a novel you question why you are reading it because nothing happens for the first half of the book. You spend so much time in the narrator's head, and she spends most of the time rehashing the steps she took to prepare her for this journey, that you wonder whether there is any point to the story. You question where the suspense is and contemplate quitting the story multiple times. It mildly improves once you reach the halfway point, and if you make it that far you continue only because you want closure. Yet the closure you receive is inadequate, open-ended and leaving room for a potential sequel you have no interest in reading. It leaves you disappointed that there is not more there to capture your interest and to create tension. You regret the decision to keep reading it because the fizzle at the end is not what you hoped would happen. Having not read Ms. Heaberlin's first novel but having read many a gushing review of it, I had high hopes about Paper Ghosts. Perhaps that is the issue, but I suspect not. The story is not set up to be a psychological thriller given the interplay between the two characters, yet that is exactly what Ms. Heaberlin ended up writing. We are in the narrator's head too much, which cancels out the little action that occurs and creates an unending series of disappointments as the story never takes off the way it should. I do plan to go back and read that first novel of hers one day, if only to compare the two novels. However, Paper Ghosts left such a poor impression that I am unfortunately hesitant to read anything else she might write in the future.
readers_retreat More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved Julia Heaberlin's novel, "Black Eyed Susans", so reading this new release was a no-brainer for me. The premise of "Paper Ghosts" is an original and imaginative one, it grabbed me from the synopsis and continued to captivate me throughout the book. I particularly enjoyed the tagline - "My sister disappeared. I know who took her. Now I've taken him". Oh, and the beautiful cover! You can't underestimate the advantages that come from it being an eyecatching one. Carl Feldman, a dementia sufferer, made a name for himself as a photographer. That was until he was tried and acquitted of murder. Grace is certain that Carl is her sister's killer and hatches a plan to visit him in care to take him on holiday, whilst pretending that she is his daughter. Her plan? To take him back to the places he is suspected to have killed women - in the hope that it will jog his memory and lead to him confessing that he did, in fact, kill her sister. So, did he actually do it or is he nothing but an old man with dementia? I found Heaberlin's writing mesmeric, there are twists aplenty and the story is both haunting and compelling in equal measure. I appreciated the way the subject of dementia was addressed, and was exploited to maximum effect creating an endlessly riveting, unique thriller. There is also a sprinkle of sharp as a tack, black humour which was a great contrast to the evocative prose. There were also sinister and creepy undertones right from the beginning - I do delight in those type of titles. Overall, this is an authentic and chilling read that uses deeper topics as substantial parts of the main hook. I look forward to Heaberlin's future releases and would definitely add them to my to-be-read heap. I would like to thank Julia Heaberlin, Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
SarahJoint More than 1 year ago
This story is sly, has some unexpected dark humor, great quotes, and creeps along ever so slowly with some chills on the way. For some readers, it'll be too slow. I was fascinated the whole time. The two main characters are incredibly unique and interesting. The back and forth never ends. You'd assume the serial killer would be the cat and the young woman the mouse, but there were moments I wasn't quite sure. They keep you guessing. The games they play with each other are constant, and you never know who will end up on top. Carl Feldman was a celebrated photographer before accusations of murder and dementia took everything from him. Under the guise of being his daughter, Grace visits him in his care home. She's spent months picking at his brain. He insists he has no memory of much of his past. He doesn't even know if he's a murderer or not. He certainly wouldn't know if he killed Rachel, Grace's sister. She's become convinced that Carl is not only responsible for the murder he was put on trial for, but quite a few others... including her sister. Determined to find the answer to the mystery that's been haunting her since childhood, Grace concocts a crazy plan to help Carl remember: a road trip to places that should stir something in his head. And if he still has a taste for blood... well, she's ready for him. She thinks. The strangest road trip I've ever read about, and an immensely absorbing tale. Certainly one of the most unique books I've read lately. I've definitely added the author to my "must read" list, as I'm quite enamored with her lovely writing style. 4.5 from me, rounded up to a 5. The wistful, slightly blurred, beautiful photos interspersed throughout the book definitely added something special to it as well. I received a copy of this book from Net Galley and Ballantine Books, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Bad people are to be found everywhere, but even among the worst there may be something good." "Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting" This novel was so well written and kept me up till 2 a.m just to finish. I had to know how it ended, the whole time i was reading i could not figure out where this story would take me. Adding the black and white photos and Grace's notebook entries to the story was a nice touch, really made the story come alive for me. Grace's older sister, Rachel, who has been missing since Grace was 12, is presumed dead and the person most likely responsible is Carl Feldman, a well known photographer, who is diagnosed with dementia. He is later acquitted on a murder of another young women and put into an assisted-living facility. Obsessing for years over what happened to her sister she one day seeks out Carl and claims to be his daughter. In hopes to jog his memory she wants to take him on a road trip to various stopping points where women have vanished. Those same stopping points are also in photographs he has taken. Believing he has killed these various women who have gone missing in Texas she hopes to prove he is in fact the killer and hopefully get justice for her sister. Carl of course has no memory of these killings and is skeptical that she really is his daughter but agrees to this road trip but she has to meet some of his conditions first. She of course agrees, she has been waiting/preparing/training for this day. As the trip progresses, she sees moments of lucidity and how he's keen to detail. Which leads you to ask Does he even have dementia? Could he actually murder all these women? Will this game Grace is playing actually lead her to answers or will she be next in this list of missing women? I cant stress enough how great this book is. The author did a great job of keeping you intrigued, giving you small clues to whats going on without actually giving away anything, and bringing the story alive in each page. Towards the end it stopped being about whether or not Carl was a serial killer and became about the relationship he and Grace had formed, as messed up and crazy as that is. 5 STARS!!
pattyh58 More than 1 year ago
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read Paper Ghosts. I rarely give 5 stars, but this book had me from beginning. Julia Heaberlin takes the reader on a journey - a young woman's sister is killed when she is young. At least she thinks she was killed because her body has yet to be found. She also believes her sister was killed by a seasoned serial killer named Carl - she has done her research. She believes her sister's killer, Carl, is a man with dementia. This man, Carl, lives in a home that takes in rejects - including possible serial killers with dementia among others. The young woman has a plan - she befriends Carl intentionally because SHE HAS A PLAN. And that plan includes a gun, and other weapons. This young woman is going to take Carl on a trip, and he may not be coming back...ever! Suspenseful and gripping - this book will hold your attention till the end. You won't be able to put this book down - loved it....RECOMMEND.
SheenahM More than 1 year ago
Would you go on a road trip with a possible serial killer if it meant you would learn the truth about your sister's disappearance? Carl Feldman was a photographer before dementia took away his autonomy. A young woman claiming to be his daughter takes him on a road trip to stir up memories, mainly to find our if he is a killer. There are so many things about that premise that make me want to scream at the characters, but it makes an intense book. Carl is quietly creepy, but you feel yourself starting to wonder if he is who he is made out to be. That unsettled feeling of not knowing what is around the corner kept me thinking about this book after it ended.
mweinreich More than 1 year ago
A map marked in red with three dots, a serial killer with dementia and a sister who has waited countless years to find her missing sister embark on an atmospheric journey. What could possibly go wrong? Imagine preparing for twelve long years, formulating plans, practicing, spending countless hours waiting to entrap the man you think kidnapped and murdered your older sister? Now all that planning comes to fruition as Grace takes Carl, a well known former photographer and who she suspects is the man who murdered her sister away with her. Grace endeavors to find Rachel her sister, dedicating her all to finding her sister. Carl is the man she feels killed her sister and others throughout Texas. And yet, here she sits next to him in a car following a map of death and despair. Grace is ready, she has worked out every scenario, every possible twist, every way that Carl can act until he leads her to where her sister is. Grace is obsessed. For twelve years this need has driven her. She is haunted by memories, driven by photographs she is sure Carl has taken, sure they constitute the dead girls he has left behind. Grace pretends to be his daughter and as she secures Carl from the home where he lives with other convicts with dementia, she will give her all to find Rachel. Carl has dementia, he doesn’t seem to know much but he is dangerous. But Grace is prepared or is she? This well done atmospheric story is one that explores not only what serial killers are but also the mind of dementia as it travels down a road of what to believe is real and what is just figments and allusions. Is Grace really the one with delusions or is Carl exactly the person she has pegged him to be, a killer, the man who murdered her sister? Thank you to Julia Haeberlin, Penguin Random House, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book We can alleviate physical pain, but mental pain – grief, despair, depression, dementia – is less accessible to treatment. It’s connected to who we are – our personality, our character, our soul, if you like. (Richard Eyre) Does Carl have a soul or is he a tainted being who has a lust for death? Is Grace always going to bear mental pain? Will this journey into darkness free her or lead her further into the dark world her mind inhabits? How far would you go?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is THE definition of psychological thriller. I found myself very hesitant tor read it at night before bed. I am not even sure how to review without giving much away. This is a book that will definitely sit with me for awhile and make me look at people in a different angle. Would you ever go on a 10 day road trip with someone who may or may not be a serial killer? What if you add dementia on top of that and that person cannot even be sure if they are or are not a serial killer? What if you trained to be a master-manipulator? Do you think you could be “out-mastered”? This book leads you down so many different paths that you have no idea what to believe and who is manipulating who; who is real and who is not. What if you spent your life travelling down a path to find out it was all wrong? Or was it really right? I want to read this book a second time after I take a mental break to see if I can pick up on the many different clues dropped throughout the story. Who, or what, is the real serial killer?