Saturday, 7 May 2016

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan

I was enthralled by this book, which I borrowed from the library.  Any parent would read this and think, there but for the grace...  Being set in a very recognisable Bristol was engaging, because I could picture the settings so clearly in my mind.  It cannot have been easy to write this story from the point of view of Rachel (mother to the missing Benedict) and Jim (the police detective leading the investigation), both vulnerable people who are doing the best job they can to cope with life.  Both were well drawn characters, multi-faceted and believable.  The question of what had happened to Ben, was he still alive and the urgency to solve the case for a positive outcome was central, but also how Rachel came to be seen and portrayed by the media and the public.  It brought to mind the case of poor, murdered Joanna Yeates and the media trial of her innocent landlord, Christopher Jefferies,and, inevitably, that of disappeared Madeleine McCann.  However, Gilly MacMillan's novel stands alone as a terrifyingly possible scenario and possible abductors and their motives are revealed by the investigation.  The discovery of the actual perpetrator is chilling, and we are forced to ask just who can we trust.  The trauma of these events are felt as acutely by the police as those closest to the victim, and the book sensitively explores this issue.  Well worth reading.

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