Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan – a review

I was given a copy of this book via netgalley.

Burnt Paper Sky is Gilly MacMillan’s debut novel. Rachel’s son goes missing during a walk through a wood. Recently divorced Rachel soon starts to blame herself for focusing more on her ex-husband than on her Son. DI Jim Clamo is called into investigate and the finger soon starts to point at Rachel.

I’m in two minds about this book. There is no doubt it is an excellent story and it kept me hooked throughout. The first half was really good. You can feel the anguish that Rachel is going through, yet still you are not 100 percent certain that she hasn’t been involved somehow.

I enjoyed the way the book was written. The focus is as much on the characters as it is on the mystery of the missing child, with the two main characters telling the story from their differing viewpoints. Rachel is telling her story one year on from her son disappearing, to an unseen audience. Jim is writing a report for the counsellor he was forced to see after the case ended. The story is then interspersed with a mix of police reports, emails, and website pages. This was reminiscent of the most recent Elizabeth Haynes book I’ve read and personally I like the style. You get to feel like you are actually taking part in the investigation. Each chapter started with quotes from missing person reports or text books which helped put everything into context.

I felt the writing of the main characters was very good and their reactions were believable. The way that Rachel acts during the press briefing which leads the public to turn on her makes you want to be both sympathetic to her and angry with her stupidity in equal measure.

My only slight criticism with the story was that there seemed to be almost too many threads thrown in. It’s difficult to explain without giving away any more of the story, but there was a lot of dead bodies thrown into peoples pasts. This seemed to give the impression that the ending was a bit abrupt with a rather tentative motive, but don’t let that put you off as I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of this.

This was a very good debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Gilly MacMillan

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