Paper Ghosts

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Heaberlin’s new psychological suspense novel takes readers across the vast and changing landscape of Texas; a perfect backdrop to the deteriorating mind of suspected killer Carl Louis Feldman. Carl’s dementia changes like the scenery- sometimes he is as empty and far away as the desert wilderness, other times he is as close and engaging as the thick forest. Heaberlin writes the dementia into the story perfectly- readers, as well as the woman he is with, cannot tell fact from fiction. The timing is perfect, the layers of the story both peel away and deepen as the search into the mind of killer takes turns no one is expecting.
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So it took me a little while to get around to reading this one but better late than never, right? I really loved this author's other book Black-Eyed Susans so was really looking forward to reading this one. I really love the whole vigilante kind of journey so this seemed like it was going to be great. While it did have it's good moments that totally weirded me out like a good mystery should, the rest of it was a little bland. I felt like there was too much that Grace was internalizing and it got a little old after awhile. The story felt like it had a fast pace and I guess it did timeline-wise but it was still just slow for me. I did really enjoy how the author included photos that fit in with the story. That was a nice touch. I kind of went back and forth on what to rate this one but I'm going to go with a 3 because it did have it's moments that got to me.
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I am sorry for not reviewing fully but I don’t have the time to read this anymore. I believe that it wouldn't benefit you as a publisher or your book if I only skimmed it and wrote a rushed review. Again, I am sorry for not fully reviewing!
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Due to my very low rating, no review will be posted to goodreads, amazon, or my youtube channel.
Thank you to the publisher for an e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Unfortunately, I was unable to get into this title. It just wasn't a good fit for me. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this title. I will not be posting a review online, in order not to skew the ratings.
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Who do you become when your need to know encompasses your entire being?

Our narrator is a young adult, who's sister mysteriously disappeared when she was a child. The narrator has been researching and cataloging since, determining to her mind who stole her sister. She narrows her suspect list to one man, a former photographer and suspected killer with dementia who lives in a halfway house. Posing as his daughter, she embarks on a road trip with him, to jog his memory and finally get the answers she seeks. But what she discovers may not be what she wants to know. 

I found the premise and process of this novel interesting. I found the author's portrayal of dementia to be honest and unflinching. However, I like my thrillers a little twisted, and not so neatly packaged at the end, so this one got a 3 star rating from me. 

Thanks to Julia Heaberlin, Net Galley, and Ballentine Books for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Opening lines: When she was twelve, my sister fell into a grave.

We were two children by ourselves in an empty cemetery, old stones jutting out of the ground in all directions. The grass was dead, the same straw color as my sister's hair. I remember the terrific flutter in my chest. How her fingertips barely brushed mine when I reached my little hand down to try to pull her out. It was freshly dug earth, waiting.

She was laughing down in that hole.

I was five.
Reason I picked up the book: I've read books by Julia Heaberlin before, and they are always fantastic and full of suspense.
And what's this book about?
Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer. That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted. before his admission to a care home for dementia. Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip. Only she's not his daughter and, if she has her way, he's not coming back . . .

Because Carl's past has finally caught up with him. The young woman driving the car is convinced her passenger is guilty, and that he's killed, other young women. Including her sister Rachel. Now they're following the trail of his photographs, his clues, his alleged crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. Confesses to any of it. To discover what really happened to Rachel. Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he's guilty of nothing and she's the liar. Either way in driving him into the Texan wilderness she's taking a terrible risk. For if Carl really is a serial killer, she's alone in the most dangerous place of all . . .
Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys mysteries with a lot of twists and turns.
Favorite paragraph: 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 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.
Something to know: You will probably be surprised at the ending of this book - I know I was. 
What I would have changed: Nothing I can think of.
Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.
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Paper Ghosts blew me away! I didn't see the ending until it smacked me in the face! A page turning must read!
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"The fact is, the best way to disappear is to blend into the usual, irritation stream of creatures." 

The main character of Paper Ghosts just does that in order to try and solve the mystery of her sister's kidnapping and murder. Since she was twelve years old, all she's ever wanted was to find out what happened to her sister. Now she has her chance at finding the answer to her sister's disappearance, but the disappearance of other children as well. 

Fully believing Carl Louis Feldman, a renowned documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia, is the man responsible, the main character decides to break him out of his halfway house, claiming to be his long-lost daughter, and takes him on a road trip across Texas. Her hope is that either memory or guilt will help reveal the truth about what really happened. 

"I'm holding hands with the past--the stars above me that died light years ago, the dinosaurs and Indians who are cobwebs in the sand, the girls Carl killed." 

While Paper Ghost has been shelved as a book of suspense, I'd argue that it's more of a psychological thriller. While there are suspenseful moments, the real thrilling elements of the book come in as we explore the minds of the main characters. Heaberlin makes the reader question how they define trust, how much they trust memory, and how much we think we know about ourselves. What lengths would we go to find out the truth? There are no clear "good" or "bad" guys in this book: each character is using the other for their own purposes, and those purposes aren't clear. The relationship between this strange man and the girl pretending to be his daughter 

Literary in style, Heaberlin's Paper Ghosts weaves real crime details with imagined ones ingrained in strong local setting descriptions. So this book isn't just a mystery of "Did Carl actually do these things?" but also a love letter to Texas, the magic of road trips, and the magic of the finding out the truth--and the complicated emotions that come with those.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this ARC of Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin.

Grace is an adult with a tragic past.  When she was young her sister was murdered by a man who was never convicted.  As Grace gets older, she finally finds the man who she believe did it.  But the biggest obstacle is his memory.  Carl, the photographer living his elderly life in a home for old felons has dementia.  But Grace won't let that deter her.  She spends time posing as his daughter before she decides to take him out on a road trip to jog his memory, and get the truth out of him once and for all.

I just could not get into this one.  The premise creeped me right the heck out, and made the character seem too reckless to sympathize with.  It just wasn't believable.
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Clever and gripping, This isn’t what I would call a fast-paced thriller but methodically plotted out & told in a way that keeps you turning the pages long after you needed to go to bed. This is the first book I have read by this author but it is far from the last.
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Grace was 12 years old when her sister went missing.  Her body has never been found, and Grace has dedicated her life to finding Grace's killer.  She sets her sights on Carl Feldman and pretends to be his daughter so that she can  release him from his nursing home since he suffers from dementia.  He claims to not remember much about his days as a photographer and the people whom he photographed, some of whom ended up murdered.  He has not been convicted of any of their murders, but Grace is sure that he is the one.  She takes him on a ride through Texas revisiting the scenes of all of the crimes that he was suspected of.  She is determined to find answers and closure for her missing sister.  It is sometimes hard to determine just exactly what is true and what is imagined since we gradually understand that they are both unreliable narrators.  

A wonderful novel that kept me wondering and turning pages.
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Thrilling, twisted and unpredictable! An adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Quirky characters and a tight, nail-biting plot. I did not want to out this book down! 

#PaperGhosts #NetGalley

*I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley & Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so.
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Wow!  What a story Paper Ghosts was.  I was drawn in immediately.  The twists in this were great!  Th whole story was well written.  The characters were very realistic, I enjoyed getting into their heads.  The cat and mouse playing throughout was creepy but needed to make this story as great as it was for me.  
Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this.
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Ballantine Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Paper Ghosts.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

The title Paper Ghosts refers to the photographs that are important and prominent throughout the book.  In my opinion, the story itself is a paper ghost, as the plot was transparent and the characters were flat and uninspired.  A young woman decides, after years of research into her sister's disappearance, that a photographer named Carl is to blame.  She takes matters into her own hands, in an attempt to find her sister once and for all.

Her name is not revealed until close to the end, kept anonymous in what I surmise is the author's attempt to keep her at arm's length.  I had issues with the plot, especially in regards to Carl's dementia.  If Carl was, in any way, lucid enough to aid in the young woman's search, he would have been able to evade and misdirect early on.  Of course, the plot needed to go in a particular direction, so none of what happened in the book truly surprised me.  The young woman never should have been able to do what she did, nor would she have been suckered by Carl as much as she was.  I just did not buy the main premise and it tainted the rest of Paper Ghosts for me.  For these reasons, I would not recommend Paper Ghosts to other readers.
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I found the concept very interesting but the plot dragged, I had a hard time finishing the book and the ending while well written didn’t appeal to me.
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could not get into this one. wanted to like it, but the MC's motivation wasn't clear or making sense to me.
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I thought this sounded like it would be a good one for me, but I found that it was really hard for me to get into the story and to finish the book.
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This is one of those books that just seemed disjointed to me. It was hard for me to follow the story and I just didn't enjoy it.
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I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. This book had me from the very beginning. I love that it kept me engaged the entire time. I couldn't wait to see how it ended. I would highly recommend to all my fellow readers. Thank you for the chance to review this book!
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