Review: “The Child” by Fiona Barton


The Child

Fiona Barton

June 27, 2017 | Berkley

Suspense & thriller | crime

Kate Waters is an old school print reporter in a world that thinks it’s done with old school print reporters. She needs a big story and she needs it soon.

But Kate’s a great reporter, with a knack for getting to the bottom of the story with one subtle trick — she cares. Sometimes she only cares a little, sometimes a lot, but her compassion gets her subjects talking.

When an old house is torn down in an gentrified London neighborhood, the skeleton of an infant is unearthed. And Kate smells a story.

Using her long list of sources, Kate discovers connections to a decades’ old crime: a newborn stolen from a hospital’s maternity ward and was never found.

Years later, the mother of that baby is still devastated, although she has done her best to hide it her hurt from her family.  But, when the skeleton is unearthed, the mother starts to feel hope for closure.

In another neighborhood, a woman remembers a painful part of her childhood in the neighborhood where the body was found. What is her connection to the baby? What does she remember? What happened to her in that unhappy home?

Kate dives into the story, taking a young reporter with her. Suddenly she finds herself swimming in the past, uncovering unexpected secrets in her attempt to discover the identity of the buried baby.

I missed reading The Widow, Fiona Barton’s first book. I read the reviews and knew that it was one I was sorry I missed, but sometimes you just forge ahead despite your misgivings.

But I kept thinking about it, really wishing I had read it. So, before The Child was released, I decided to listen to it (it’s one of the perks of working from home–being able to listen to a book while I work).

The Widow was wonderful. I love Kate Waters. She’s the reporter I dreamed of being. Kids and life got in the way (and the fact that I don’t like to ask probing questions). But she’s exactly who I wished I was: ballsy, brash, brave.

(These books are not at all dependent on each other FYI.)

Fiona Barton is a world class storyteller, bringing Kate and the other characters to life. Barton does what writers are told and taught to do: she SHOWS readers the story rather than TELLS them a story.

In The Child, Barton uses multiple narrators to lead readers through the mystery, setting it and shrouding it in suspense. By telling the story from different points of view, readers are given each character’s insights and memories, keeping readers guessing until the very end.

I’m not always a fan of multiple narrators. Often I find it obscures the story and makes everything just more confusing. But Barton uses it well. Yes, I was unsure of the indentity of the child and who was at fault for its death, but I was never lost. Barton used her voices well.

And, in solving the mystery of the child, the other narrators help Kate get to the bottom of another mystery — and it’s discovery is, in someways, more satisfying than the mystery of the baby.

The Child is both thought provoking and suspenseful. It keeps readers guessing and thinking without a hitch in the pace.

I highly recommend The Child to anyone looking for an intelligent, fast-paced thriller.



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