Paper Ghosts

Julia Heaberlin. Ballantine, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8041-7802-0
The unnamed 24-year-old narrator of this artful and elegiac psychological thriller set in Texas from Heaberlin (Black-Eyed Susans) has spent every moment since her older sister, Rachel, vanished 12 years earlier investigating what happened. Her primary suspect is 61-year-old documentary photographer Carl Louis Feldman, who was once tried for a girl’s murder and whose photos she can link to 10 missing girls; Carl suffers from dementia, though, and claims not to remember his past. Undaunted, the young woman springs the artist from his state-sponsored halfway house by posing as his long-lost daughter and takes him on a road trip designed to unlock his secrets and bring closure to his victims’ families, which offers some surprisingly comic moments. The author wields words like weapons, with each one chosen to heighten tension, underscore emotion, or foreshadow doom. Keen character work further distinguishes the tale; neither Carl nor the narrator is entirely good, reliable, or sane, adding texture and profundity to an already riveting relationship. Heaberlin brilliantly combines travelogue with a heartbreaking portrait of the damage done by childhood trauma. Agent: Kimberly Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018
Release date: 04/17/2018
Genre: Fiction
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-5463-8
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8041-7804-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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