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99 Red Balloons By Elisabeth Carpenter

99 Red Balloons’99 Red Balloons’ is the first book by Elisabeth Carpenter.

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, ageing 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.

’99 Red Balloons’ is Elisabeth’s debut novel and it was a book that consumed my attention one afternoon.

The story is about every parents nightmare, when their child is suddenly snatched from their lives, never to be returned and the parents are then to spend the rest of their days, wondering and hoping that their child will return to their lives, safe and sound.

Right from the start in this atmospheric book, we are drawn into the innocent world of a little girl, when a strange man approaches her. She is puzzled and scared of this man and has always been warned against strangers. But once he assures her that he’s acting on behalf of her mother, she trusts and warms to this stranger, who she naively thinks that her safety is his only concern.

The story flows between three main characters, the little girl who has been kidnapped. Stephanie, who’s little niece Grace is taken one day and follows her as the family deal with being the subject of the police’s investigation as well as they count every passing minute as they fear that Grace maybe in danger. The story also follows an older woman called Maggie, who’s granddaughter disappeared over twenty years ago, which resulted in her own daughter, Sarah taking her life. Maggie is convinced that the recent kidnapping has a lot of similarities with Zoe’s disappearance and we see this elderly woman become obsessed with the case and begin her own investigation.

The story is really cleverly and realistically written, that it feels like your own child has been taken, as the plot really explores the emotions of the nightmare and tensions that it can have on a family. The story flows quickly between the characters, each chapter flowing seamlessly into each one and leaves the reader gasping at each turn.

The inclusion of Maggie’s perspective was also really smart. The story is primarily seen through the eyes of younger characters, so Maggie’s narrative was interesting. She’s old, frail and has nearly given up on life but the recent disappearance has given her a new sense, driving her on to finally put her own ghosts to rest. There was also a deep sense of poignancy in the chapters with the child, as before your eyes, you see the child stripped of their innocence and having to face the harsh reality ahead.

Riddled with suspense, dodgy characters and situations that makes everyone a suspect, this book was impossible to put down.

If you’re looking for an atmospheric and intelligent thriller that pulls you centre stage into every parents nightmare when a child goes missing, then ’99 Red Balloons’ is a must read for you.

You can buy 99 Red Balloons from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

99 Red Balloon Book Tour – Extract

99 Red BalloonsOn the book tour for Elisabeth Carpenter’s exciting debut, ’99 Red Balloons’, read an extract from the chilling tale.

Chapter 6

I lay the newspaper across the kitchen table, straightening out any creases. Ronnie used to like his paper ironing – fancied himself as one of those posh types. I only did it for him on Sundays, and his birthday. ‘It’s not because I like it straight,’ he’d say. ‘It stops the ink running.’

‘Get away with you,’ I said.

I wish he were still here with me. I’d iron it every day.

Oh, stop it, you daft fool. I can hear his voice in my head. You know you’d only iron it ’til the novelty of me being back wore off – two days, tops.

I sit down at the table. I’m daft having these conversations with myself, but after forty-six years of marriage I usually knew what he was going to say before he did.

Grace. That’s the little girl’s name.

She’s wearing her school uniform in the picture – it’s on the front page. I can’t make out the name of the school from the badge on her jumper, though I’m not sure if that’s my eyes or the quality of the print.

She was last seen walking into a newsagent’s.

Newsagent’s.

I look up at the wall. How odd. I wonder if she was getting sweets, just like—

The phone rings.

‘Hang on,’ I shout.

I shuffle the chair back and rest my hands on the table to lever myself up. Damn legs.

‘Wait a minute.’

I walk as fast as I can to the phone table in the living room. People can be so impatient these days.

Some folk only let it ring five or six times before they give up. Never enough time for me.

‘Hello?’ I say. Ron always used to tease me about my telephone voice. ‘Hello?’ I can’t have been too late, there’s no dial tone. ‘Is anyone there?’

I listen as hard as I can. Is my hearing getting worse? There’s traffic noise on the other end of the line. Are they calling from a mobile telephone or a big red box?

‘Can you speak louder? I can’t hear you.’

The click of the phone makes me jump. They’ve hung up, again. I replace the handset and wander back into the kitchen. Was that the fourth or fifth time this week?

What if it’s him? I can’t remember what he sounds like; I should remember his voice, shouldn’t I? It’s been too long. Every day I try not to think about how he broke my heart. I can’t even look at his photograph any more without it bringing back awful memories.

Tap, tap, tap.

The window rattles.

I still my breathing. My heart’s thumping.

I should get up and hide in the pantry, but I can’t move.

The handle turns – the back door opens slowly.

‘Morning, Mags.’

To read more from this book (which I read in a day!), buy 99 Red Balloons from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Book Cover Reveal – 99 Red Balloons By Elisabeth Carpenter

99 Red BalloonsI’m excited to show the cover to Elisabeth Carpenter’s thrilling new book called ’99 Red Balloons’.

What the back cover says:

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, ageing 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…

You can pre-order 99 Red Balloons from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 24th August 2017.