99 RED BALLOONS is the debut novel for author Elisabeth
Carpenter. The story is filled with twists and turns that I
never saw coming. Eight-year-old Grace has been begging her
parents to allow her to walk home from school with her
classmates. Emma, her mother, has fears and is hesitant.
She follows Grace secretly for several weeks, making sure
her daughter does not see her. She repeats over and over
that Grace is never to speak to strangers or take anything
from them. When she is comfortable with her decision, she
allows Grace to walk home from school with her friends and
no parental supervision. Grace is happy and safe until one
day she is no longer safe. Every parent's worse nightmare
has occurred. Their child has been kidnapped.
A strange man wearing a wooly hat approaches Grace in the
candy shop. He introduces himself as George, a good friend
of her mother. He has come to take Grace to meet her mother
at the bus stop and she has a special surprise for her.
Grace questions George and he smiles and assures her he is
doing this errand as a favor to her mother. They leave the
shop together and get into his car. A familiar song is
playing on the car radio. Grace smiles as it is a song she
loves and remembers her mother singing it to her often in
German. George gives her a drink he retrieves from the back
seat and immediately Grace can barely keep her eyes open.
She falls into a deep sleep as her journey begins.
Emma is running up and down the street as her sister,
Stephanie arrives and asks what is happening? "Grace has not
come home from school, and she is hours late. I am afraid
something has happened to her." The police are called and
Emma, Stephanie, and Matt, Grace's dad, are questioned, the
house is searched and researched. Neighbors and schoolmates
all claim they have not seen Grace. She has disappeared.
The novel is actually the story of two kidnappings. One
happened to a young girl, Zoe, about 30 years ago not too
far from this area. Zoe was never found, and her family was
torn apart by her abduction. Her father, David, never
stopped searching for her. Her mother constantly drank
unable to face her loss and committed suicide. Her
grandfather died and his widow, Maggie Taylor never stops
thinking about her. When she sees a familiar face in a
picture in the newspaper of the latest girl that is missing,
she is jolted hard and things begin to happen fast and
furiously. 99 RED BALLOONS is a read you will not be able
to put down with an ending that will amaze and surprise you.
Bravo, Ms. Carpenter.
Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if
one was your daughter?
Eight-year-old Grace is last seen in a sweetshop. Her mother
Emma is living a nightmare. But as her loved ones rally
around her, cracks begin to emerge. What are the emails sent
between her husband and her sister? Why does her mother take
so long to join the search? And is there more to the
disappearance of her daughter than meets the eye?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Sharples sees a familiar face
in the newspaper. A face 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.