Burnt Paper Sky
Paperback: 496 pages
ISBN-13: 978-034940639827 Aug. 2015
Rare and beautiful is the thing that a debut novel is sprinkled with such gold dust from the off that it a racing certainty that its author is destined for great things. With Burnt Paper Sky, however, Swindon’s Gilly MacMillan’s debut holds that certainty for sure and backing on her to succeed is an out-and-out must.
Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing. But what really happened that fateful afternoon? Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust but can the nation trust Rachel?
This is gut-wrenchingly tight writing, with descriptive prose that will clean knock each individual reader’s socks clean off with ability to move through the seven stages of near-grief as Rachel is torn emotionally asunder from first to last, almost without respite.
Fantastic too is the drawing of the traumatised DCI Jim Clemo, as the full effects of any criminal investigation – let alone that which involves a missing child – are hauled to the fore with such devastating skill, it is almost as though we too are in the incident rooms and crime scenes with the investigators, as well as alongside Rachel as her world slowly implodes.
Not only is the plot intense, however, but also the thematic insight with which it is embroiled. This is no mere commentary on events, but is rather a damning indictment of our times as we endlessly, and more often than not, fail to search for the truth but instead accept that which is being offered to us without question no matter who or what it might hurt.
For this, if for nothing else, MacMillan deserves to be applauded for Burnt Paper Sky, which stands out by a country mile as the debut of the year and possibly the best of its genre to have been published thus far in 2015.