Breathing Out the Ghost – Book Review

breathingouttheghost Life went on anyway, whether you wanted it to or not. The hard part was being left behind to breathe out the ghost of the one who’d gone on. – from Breathing Out the Ghost, page 49 –

Colin St. Claire’s son AJ is missing. Snatched from outside a store, the child seems to have disappeared into thin air. St. Claire is on a mission to find him and get revenge against the pedophile he holds responsible for the abduction. He travels the midwest fueled by obsession and a constant supply of amphetamines, hopping from town to town where other children have also gone missing.

But first thing’s first. I’ve got to find a boy. If not my own, any will do. – from Breathing Out the Ghost, page 221 –

Private detective Robert Heim is also obsessed…not so much with finding AJ, but with bringing St. Claire home to his wife. His misplaced sense of duty not only loses him his license to practice as a detective, but it puts his own fragile marriage in jeopardy.

He was moved by something bigger and deeper and of his own – a sense of anger, revenge, righteous defiance. Heim knew he had to get that out before it ruined his life. – from Breathing Out the Ghost, page 289 –

Beverly “Sis” Pruitt is battling her own ghosts. She still mourns the murder of her eldest daughter seventeen years before, and the anger and grief of that loss ignites when a little boy named Chance disappears along the creek in her town.

Anger with an aim. She wasn’t just scaring random sparrows. She hadn’t forgotten or let go of her pain. She was doing something with it. – from Breathing Out the Ghost, page 131 –

All three characters are brought together in Kirk Curnett’s dark psychological thriller Breathing Out the Ghost. As the story progresses, each character must face his or her own demons and come to terms with not only the ghosts of their past, but the pain of loss which cannot be reconciled.

Curnutt writes with a razor sharp edge – drawing out the inner workings of his characters and revealing their fears, fantasies, anger, and grief. As St. Claire’s delicate grip on reality begins to crumble, the reader begins to dread what may lie ahead. But it is not just this character’s mental instability which creates the tension in the novel, there is also the interplay between Sis and her farmer husband (who is more comfortable denying the existence of his dead daughter than holding her memory), as well as Heim’s seemingly unstoppable self-destruction.

Breathing Out the Ghost is a novel about loss and obsession; memory and denial; and moving forward vs. falling down. Curnutt writes the book from multiple points of view which allows the reader to fully understand each character’s motivation and struggle. I was surprised by this book – one which on its surface looks to be just another novel about a missing child.  But behind the basic plot is a deeper story – one which examines the difficulty in remaining human in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

Highly recommended with a caution – this book involves difficult subject matter and sometimes graphic descriptions. For some readers, this may be a deeply disturbing novel.


Please visit the following links:

Kirk Curnutt’s website

Buy this book on Amazon

Read my Book Tour Post which includes a guest post by the author (about missing children) and information about how to help in the search for missing children.

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  1. I only started hearing about this book recently and the more I hear about it, the more I am looking forward to reading it. It definitely sounds like it deals with a difficult topic. Thanks for the great review, Wendy.

    • sheri on January 18, 2009 at 23:37

    Great review. Mine is posting Wednesday. I also liked the book.

  2. Great Review Wendy! As you know, I felt the same as you about this one.

    • Kathy on January 19, 2009 at 08:38

    Books like that can be difficult to read, but this one sounds like it’s worth it.

    • Wendy on January 19, 2009 at 09:04

    WendyCat: I think you would like this one…it is very well written. Curnutt is an author to keep an eye on.

    Sheri: Glad to hear you liked the book as well. I am looking forward to your post!

    Amy: Thanks! It is great when a book is universally liked as this one seems to be.

    Kathy: It is difficult to read – but it is important too.

  3. This sounds like a really good read. Great review!

    • Lisamm on January 20, 2009 at 13:32

    Wendy, Wow! What a wonderful review! Thanks so much for participating.

    • Teddy on January 21, 2009 at 18:23

    Wonderful review Wendy! This one is on my TBR!

    • MJ on January 22, 2009 at 17:37

    this just arrived in my mailbox today. I’m looking forward to reading it.

    • Wendy on January 23, 2009 at 08:27

    Samantha: It is a good read! Thanks!

    Lisa: I love participating in your blog tours…thanks for the opportunity to read this great book and “meet” the author!

    Teddy: Thank you!

    MJ: Hope you’ll come back and tell me how you liked it!

    • Anna on January 30, 2009 at 07:04

    I thought this was a great book. Curnutt’s writing and characters are amazing! It was heavy and hard to read at times, though.

    • Wendy on February 1, 2009 at 09:45

    Anna: It was a very deep book on many levels – I liked that it had so many layers.

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