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Burnt Paper Sky - Full Review.

Burnt Paper Sky - Gilly MacMillan

Publication date: August 27th 2015 from Little Brown UK

 

Source: Netgalley

 

Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.
But what really happened that fateful afternoon?
Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?
The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.
WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

 

An absolutely brilliant page turner this, focussing very much on character rather than mystery (although the mystery element is also superb) as we delve into the heads, hearts and minds of a group of people caught up in a child abduction case.

 

When Rachel lets Ben out of her sight for a few moments, he disappears apparently into thin air. Following the ensuing police investigation and how it affects not only the family but the officers involved, this is an emotional rollercoaster of a read that utterly grips you from the very first page.

 

Rachel is an elegantly drawn character who is both sympathetic yet often incomprehensible – it is easy to understand why the general public turn on her. Gilly Macmillan has taken a story that could be straight out of the news and given us a fictional insight behind the scenes of such a traumatic event. It brought to mind a very obvious real life case which caught the public imagination, lets face it we’ve all done it, that little voyeuristic leaning. Seeing someone being interviewed on the news and thinking “ooh they look suspicious”. In “Burnt Paper Sky” you see it from all sides, from many angles and most of all get a real feel for how that can make an already stressful time that much worse.

 

Then we have Jim Clemo, in charge of the investigation, a man who we see in the aftermath as haunted and broken – as we look back over the details the reasons for this become apparent. It is beautifully constructed and has huge psychological depth. Jim I did sympathise with throughout, genuinely determined to find Ben at all costs, still his own personality traits often interfere with what might be logical. Authentic and totally believable, it was heart wrenching stuff.

 

Looking at the mystery element (what DID happen to Ben) this is woven into the plot seemlessly – whilst the characters and what they are going through are key, each little insight into them (not only our two main protagonists but the wider family and the other officers involved) gives another clue to a possible outcome, another step on the ladder to discovering what happened on that afternoon. Again realistically drawn, there is nothing here that is thrown in for the sake of it or to create red herrings, it is simply a good story that could easily be completely true.

 

Mostly this novel will have you questioning – the next time you see a breaking news story a little like this one (sadly I feel that this is bound to happen) you may look at things differently. After all if YOUR life was thrown under such a spotlight, where every nuance and every action was dissected and taken apart, how would you look to the outside world? We all have our secrets, we all make errors in judgement. If that one error led to a tragedy, could anyone really blame you more than you would blame yourself?

 

Whose Side are you on? Well Ben’s of course. But that won’t stop you going back and forth on the other players in the drama – guilty or innocent they will all get into your head and stay there. Brilliantly done.

 

Highly Recommended

 

Happy Reading Folks!