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Summary

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 Taylor 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.

©2017 Elisabeth Carpenter (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Libby Carpenter's beautiful writing draws you in immediately. Her characterisation is superb, and she skillfully delivers a pacey, suspenseful plot. 99 Red Balloons is an intelligent, taut and compelling thriller that manages to pack a punch - and still throws you right at the end. It's perfect - I loved every word." (Sam Carrington, best-selling author of Saving Sophie)
"This sharp, poignant domestic noir is like watching a snake slither towards its prey. You want to look away but somehow you can't stop looking. Carpenter emerges as an addictive new talent, climbing inside the characters and opening them up for the reader to devour. What a wonderful debut!" (Helen Fields, author or Perfect Remains)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Very Good.

Excellent storyline and well performed by all narrators. Really enjoyed this book and will look for more by this author.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Absolutely loved this. At one stage i drove an extra 10 miles out my way to avoid having to stop listening. Storyline was great and the characterisation was wonderful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Boring

Glad this book has finished . Found it long drawn out and very boring and tedious.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Confusing read

Was expecting good things from this book but was left a bit disappointed. The suspense was quite good but the story dragged. It was full of padding and boring details that added nothing to the story ( the description of bingo for example) I got to the stage I just wanted it to be over, not that it was particularly bad, just slow and too long. The story was confusing, jumping back and forth between time periods and the narration didn’t help. All the female characters ( with the exception of the child) sounded exactly the same and it was difficult to distinguish between who was speaking. I kept waiting for a twist at the end was it never came and I was left feeling that the whole book was distinctly ‘Meh’.

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great book

i really loved this book, the story is very clever and the narration is perfect

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  • Avril
  • Cinderford, United Kingdom
  • 02-05-18

Confusing

Been trying to listen to this all day. The readers are ok but the story, popping from place to place and era to era... although it’s hard to tell this at first... is difficult to comprehend, and I’ve almost given up. Probably one to return.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripped from the first page!

I love books that capture you from the very first page. Full of intrigue, characters that were believable and likeable...well most of them anyway. The author manages to provoke such an array of emotions, tears, frustration, anger, sadness, little smiles and hope. Families struggling to cope with such huge tragedies, the tensions that threaten to rip them apart. The narrators did a fine job adding to the enjoyment. Loved it!

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FANTASTIC

Great story, brilliantly narrated by a variety of narrators, wish there were more books in the series

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Top Performances/Production Values - (poor text).

Where does 99 Red Balloons rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Production value 10/10 - content 5/10. Excellent performances from the actors - whom held my attention throughout, despite the story being predictable and laboured. Such a shame, as it's often the other way around - the texts are often great, but the narration tiresome and flat. If this production company had a better text to deal with, with the same directors, crew and actors, it would easily be in my top 10.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Yes. FAR too much exposition. It needed filleting, heavily.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

The character/actor playing Stephanie was my highlight. Dreamy, intimate and quite hypnotic at points - but I thought they were all great.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

99 Red Ballons

Brilliant, page turner, difficult to put down and keeps you guessing until the very end .

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  • Simone
  • 07-12-17

Great Twist!

This book was very interesting at first – albeit a little slow paced, but after the twist was revealed it was downright captivating!

I did not see it coming at all; I did not suspect a thing!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicole Neal
  • 23-01-18

Wonderful book!

Excellent book. I loved how the characters were separated by their own story and slowly linked together. Suspenseful, heartbreaking and joyful The narrators were wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Listening Queen
  • 17-07-18

I was waiting for soooo much more.....

I was really excited by all the reviews of this book! i thought it was going to be tremendous. I kept reading about the twists and turns, and the surprises... and there were some surprises... but i wanted so much more. There were so many unanswered questions, and so much that could have been explained more. I think my biggest issue with the book is the character development, I still have no idea who Katherine and Emma are, and after listening to the whole book, I don't understand the dynamic between all of them, or why? I am confused and left unsatisfied ...

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ashley
  • 30-05-18

Wow. What a beautifully written book....

Great title too. Yes it was a thriller but it was realistic, plausible and honestly I was so invested in the characters I was sad it was over.
This book has not gotten nearly the attention it deserves. I will be watching and waiting for more good reads from this author.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AudaciousMe
  • 26-04-18

Wow! Wow! This is a thriller with a puzzle inside

Would you listen to 99 Red Balloons again? Why?

I did listen to it again! To see if I got all the clues correct. The thriller stands alone. Had me from the opening scene. The story is written in multiple POV. Which normally, I don't like. But there are mysteries inside and the clues are present. Amazing. I listened to it again slower a third time with my adult daughter. She was begging me to tell her and it was so hard not to say pay attention to this or that.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Maggie, the elderly lady in the story. I think in a weird way Maggie carries the story and is the protagonist. But I don't know what the author would say. The characterization of the players in this story is so real and so heart-binding that I feel like I know them and they are real people.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Maggie

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

oh, yes. And as I said, the mysteries are like the "easter egg" they talk about in digital games. When you find the answer it feels great. It was there all along.

Any additional comments?

I believe this is a debut novel. It's also written in British English. The one word I couldn't pull a visual from the context was "jumper" as to an article of clothing. In Britain, it means a "sweater". I listen to audible books because I love stories and because my sight isn't as good as it used to be. But I really appreciated having the Kindle book and the audible version. No gore, no paranormal, no vampires- just ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

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  • Andrea
  • 14-04-18

Enjoyable

Don't want to spoil any part of it. I will only say please read it. Good story line, character development, well written book.