It’s TWG’s turn on Elisabeth Carpenter’s blog tour today, and I have the pleasure of sharing an extract from Elisabeth’s debut novel, 99 Red Balloons! Before I do that, here are the all important details and ‘to buy’ link for the book itself. Enjoy!
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.
Chapter 10 p.44-45
Jim smiles at me kindly, like most people used to when I dared to believe Zoe was still alive. He looks up at the television.
‘It’s the appeal.’
A policeman in a suit is reading from a piece of paper. Next to him are, I presume, Grace’s parents. The mother has her head in her hands; the father comforts her, his arm around her shoulders. My heart beats too fast, I wrap my arms around myself – I’m so cold, I’m always cold.
‘They look young,’ says Jim.
‘People do these days. Must be in their early thirties, I imagine. Though I can’t see her face properly.My mother looked fifty when she was thirty.’ My mouth is talking without my mind thinking.
‘Those poor people.’
It cuts to a photograph of a school uniform laid out on a table.
‘These are the clothes Grace was wearing, although if someone has taken her, she might not be wearing the same ones.’
Jim tuts. ‘Course she wouldn’t be wearing the same clothes. But you know, Maggie, I know I shouldn’t say this, but what if someone’s taken her, and just killed the poor little mite?’
I sigh loudly in the hope it’ll shut him up. Even though I’ve thought the same thing myself.
The appeal must have been taped earlier as the news article cuts to a shot outside: a village hall or a community centre. I see the mother’s face for the first time – her friend, or perhaps her sister, holding her by the elbow.
I get up slowly and walk to the television. ‘She’s a bonny one, isn’t she?’
He doesn’t answer.
‘Would you pause it, Jim?’
He presses the button several times.
‘I’m bloody pressing it.’
He did it. The picture’s frozen. I get closer to the screen, bending down to look at her face. My knees go weak. I drop to the carpet.
I can’t breathe properly.
Jim’s at my side.
‘Have you had a turn? Shall I fetch the doctor?’
I take several breaths before I can speak and shake my head.
‘I’m fine. Pass me that picture.’ I point to the mantelpiece, but he picks up the one facing the wall – the one I rarely look at. ‘Not that one, the one on the right.’
He grabs it and hands it to me. I hold it next to the pretty face on the television.
‘Put the glasses on your face, man.’
As he does, he brings his head next to mine, just a few feet from the television.
‘Well, would you look at that,’ he says. ‘She’s the double of your Sarah. But that’s impossible, she’s—’
‘I know, I know. But it could be . . .’
Jim frowns. ‘What are the chances of that? It can’t be.’
My shoulders slump. ‘I know. But it might. It might be Zoe.’