A Texas map marked with three red dots like drops of blood. A serial killer who claims to have dementia. A mysterious young woman who wants answers. What could go wrong?

“A rich hybrid work that’s at once . . . a murder mystery, a road novel, a pair of psychological case studies and a meditation on photography.”—The Sunday Times (U.K.), Thriller of the Month

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.
 
Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia—and may or may not be a serial killer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.
 
Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.
 
Is he a liar or a broken old man? Is he a pathological con artist? Or is she? In Paper Ghosts, Julia Heaberlin once again swerves the serial killer genre in a new direction. You won’t see the final, terrifying twist spinning your way until the very last mile.

Praise for Paper Ghosts


“I kept thinking of [Patricia] Highsmith while reading Paper Ghosts. . . . [Julia] Heaberlin anchors her books with troubled but endearingly badass women. Think Amy Schumer’s character in Trainwreck except with guns and the greater possibility of redemption. . . . Like Highsmith, Heaberlin displays a keen grasp of casual cruelty that defines human interaction, not to mention a flair for stories in which no one—least of all the protagonist—can be trusted. . . . Texas has yet again bred a major American noir writer.”D Magazine

“[An] artful and elegiac psychological thriller . . . The author wields words like weapons, with each one chosen to heighten tension, underscore emotion, or foreshadow doom. . . . Heaberlin brilliantly combines travelogue with a heartbreaking portrait of the damage done by childhood.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A rich hybrid work that’s at once a zany, dialogue-propelled two-hander, a murder mystery, a road novel, a pair of psychological case studies and a meditation on photography. It would make a fine indie movie, although screen adaptation would entail sacrificing Heaberlin’s evocative prose.”The Sunday Times (UK), Thriller of the Month

“I kept thinking of [Patricia] Highsmith while reading Paper Ghosts. . . . [Julia] Heaberlin anchors her books with troubled but endearingly badass women. . . . Like Highsmith, Heaberlin displays a keen grasp of casual cruelty that defines human interaction, not to mention a flair for stories in which no one—least of all the protagonist—can be trusted. . . . Texas has yet again bred a major American noir writer.”D Magazine

“[An] artful and elegiac psychological thriller . . . Heaberlin brilliantly combines travelogue with a heartbreaking portrait of the damage done by childhood. . . . [She] wields words like weapons, with each one chosen to heighten tension, underscore emotion, or foreshadow doom.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Entertainingly unnerving.”The Dallas Morning News

“Strong characterisation, haunting images, a wonderful sense of place, and some dark comedy make this travelogue-cum-psychological thriller well worth the read.”The Guardian

“The tension crackles on the page. . . . Heaberlin writes with passion and poetry about Texas, photography, and the comedy and tragedy of dementia. . . . It elevates the often tawdry genre of the serial killer novel to a work of art.”The Sunday Express (UK)

“Heaberlin’s spot-on depiction of mental anguish, her careful creation of characters who are mean and troubled yet compelling, and an unexpected twist at the end make this a winner.”Booklist

“Heaberlin’s works beautifully evoke the texture and landscape of the state of Texas while acknowledging the ambivalence and occasional menace that underlies the sublime beauty of the state, and her latest is no exception.”—CrimeReads 

“Top-notch suspense, a dangerous game of hide-and-go-seek, masterfully crafted. Heaberlin conjures a foreboding atmosphere of exquisite tension. Paper Ghosts is an evenly paced, intricately plotted original conception, with plenty of twists to keep us guessing.”Lone Star Literary

“Heaberlin writes the dementia into the story perfectly—readers cannot tell fact from fiction. The timing is perfect, the layers of the story both peel away and deepen as the search into the mind of a killer takes turns no one is expecting.”RT Book Reviews

“A tense, gripping read with a cat-and-mouse game that will keep readers riveted.”Library Journal

Paper Ghosts is an exceptional read, with a deftly woven plot—a book to devour in one sitting. This is breathless storytelling at its very best.”Elizabeth Haynes, New York Times bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner