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.



Review: Lisa Jewell’s “I Found You”

I read this one this past spring, but had no time to review it. So here’s a catch-up review, because I think you should read this one!

Title: I Found You

Author: Lisa Jewell

Published: April 25, 2017 by Atria Books

Genre: Contemporary fiction, suspense, women’s fiction

In the windswept British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on a beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, newlywed Lily Monrose grows anxious when her husband fails to return home from work one night. Soon, she receives even worse news: according to the police, the man she married never even existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty Ross are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. The annual trip to Ridinghouse Bay is uneventful, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just because he’s a protective older brother.

Who is the man on the beach? Where is Lily’s missing husband? And what ever happened to the man who made such a lasting and disturbing impression on Gray?

I fell in love with Lisa Jewell while reading The Girls in the Garden (read my review here), and she didn’t disappoint with I Found You. It’s twisty-turny suspense-filled fun.

The best suspense/mystery novels are well written and keep you guessing until the last possible moment, twisting that knife of uncertainty until plunging in the answer at the last possible moment. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but for the most part that’s my golden rule of suspense. If it can keep me wondering, it can keep my attention.

Beyond the uncertainty principle is another level–the authors who let you THINK you’ve got it figured out only to make you feel like a fool when they come out with another big plot twist. I LOVE this.

Jewell does this masterfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed I Found You. Jewell kept me guessing until the end, twisting me around repeatedly, and then finally putting me straight.

WONDERFUL suspenseful fun.