Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter! I have an exclusive extract for you today!
From Elisabeth Carpenter comes a debut psychological thriller guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of Broadchurch and The Missing.
‘An intelligent, taut and compelling thriller that throws you right at the end’
- SAM CARRINGTON, bestselling author of Saving Sophie.
What They Say:
Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
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…
This is a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist that will take your breath away.
I’m nearly at the newsagent’s. I need to see more pictures of her. It’s been three days since I last went out. It’s not raining, but I’m wearing my mac anyway. I don’t know why I didn’t look out of the window before I came out. It’s sunny, bloody typical. It’s never usually warm in October; I’m sweating in this stupid coat.
I shouldn’t have come outside. It’s making me think too clearly, but I need to see her in black and white, to feel the pictures between my fingers. It’s not enough seeing the news on television. I’m getting the sickness again – that’s what Sarah used to call it when she was obsessed with a boy at school. She knew it was happening, but couldn’t do anything about it. It’s how I feel about this; it makes me feel closer to Sarah.
I open the door to the newsagent’s.
‘Morning, Maggie. Not seen you in—’
‘Morning. I’ve been ill.’
Hopefully my tone will put her off talking to me again.
‘Are you okay? You haven’t been yourself this past week.’
‘How would you know? You haven’t seen me for days.’
I wish she’d just shut up.
I pick up three copies of each newspaper, placing each on the counter as I move along the rack. I’ve brought my shopping trolley so carrying them home won’t be a problem.
‘I’m sorry, Maggie. I should have realised. Sandra said you get awfully upset whenever there’s a missing child.’
That bloody woman. I’m sure she was put on this earth merely to test my patience – to examine every single movement I make. I can feel it bubbling inside me. The rage is almost at my mouth. I have to stop and breathe before it escapes.
I slam the last three copies of the Express onto the counter.
‘Just these, Mrs Sharples.’
‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.’
I should have exploded while I had it in me – let her have every angry word I want to throw at the people who live in this village – all their pitying glances, their whispers of That poor, poor woman, she’s got nothing left. But it would only give them something else to yak about. I’ve lived with this for too long. Once I let them have it, I’ll know that I’ll have finally lost it – and I came too close then, far too close. I’ll have to keep myself in check.
‘How much will that be?’
She pushes the stack of papers towards me.
‘You can have them. Please . . . on me . . . no charge.’
I open my trolley and carefully lay the papers inside. I place the money on the counter.
‘I do appreciate that, Mrs Sharples, but I don’t accept charity. Never have, never will.’
I turn and pull my trolley.
‘Maggie. Please call me . . .’
She doesn’t bother to finish her sentence.
About The Author:
Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family and has been awarded a Northern Writers' Award bursary from New Writing North, and she was long-listed for the Yeovil Literary Prize (2015) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015). Two of Libby’s flash fiction pieces were shortlisted on Mashstories.com – where she is now part of the judging team.
Thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for sending me a gorgeous copy of this book and for allowing me to be part of the blog tour! Review to follow.