Burnt Paper Sky – Gilly Macmillan

Published by Little, Brown Book Group in Feb 2015


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?

The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.


My thoughts

This debut from Gilly Macmillan is a highly emotional and incredibly readable missing child drama.

‘Burnt Paper Sky’ is a missing child story, told from the perspective of the distraught mother and the detective involved in the case. Rachel is out with her son in the woods. Taking her eye off him for a matter of minutes leads to his disappearance. The rest of the book follows Rachel as she copes in the days following the disappearance of her son and the cruel attention, in particular from social media and the media in general. The detective Jim Clemo is consumed by guilt, following the case and we see his discussions with a police therapist.

The highlight for me was the way it captured the judgemental attitude of our era. We all watch press conferences with relatives of missing children and adults and find ourselves observing critically. We all think we can work out from the body language, whether the person before us is innocent or guilty. We are all arm chair detectives. In the case of Rachel, she is quickly perceived to be a bad mother just because she does not follow the script and behave how others think she should. This leads to things getting very tough for Rachel, as she becomes the subject of internet gossip. Everything about her is examined in minute detail. Her privacy is lost. Everyone believes she has something to do with it.

I raced through the book at top speed, desperate to find out the truth about Ben. Even I thought Rachel may be guilty. I really didn’t know how it would all resolve itself.

An engrossing read, that will make you think about how you would cope in Rachel’s position. Every parent’s complete and utter nightmare!




Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my review copy!


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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4 Responses to Burnt Paper Sky – Gilly Macmillan

  1. crimeworm says:

    I’ve read this; just haven’t got round to reviewing it. It was okay. Good point about the judgemental attitude of public!

    • Christine says:

      I looked on your blog to find your review! I was sure you’d read it, Linda.

      • crimeworm says:

        Yes last week I’ve just been really behind with all my reviewing! Will get to it soon. Got a new laptop, but it’s taking me a wee while to get used to it!

  2. Kay says:

    Putting this one on my list. Sounds like one I would like. Have to wait a bit to get it though.

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