STARRED REVIEW
June 27, 2017

A reporter searches for answers to a heart-rending mystery

By Fiona Barton
Review by

A worker finds tiny bones, the bones of an infant long buried, when excavating an East London backyard for a development project. Thus begins Fiona Barton’s second psychological thriller.

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A worker finds tiny bones, the bones of an infant long buried, when excavating an East London backyard for a development project. Thus begins Fiona Barton’s second psychological thriller. After the success of Barton’s bestselling and finely wrought first book, The Widow, readers have high expectations for The Child, a story that once again features Kate Waters, a thorough and “old school” reporter who has a winsome way with people. In this novel Kate’s personality and background are more developed, though the mystery remains front and center.

Spurred by a small article mentioning the gruesome discovery of the baby’s bones, Waters decides to investigate. She wants to know who buried the baby and what kind of sordid, desperate circumstances would prompt such an action. Three other key female characters also see the article and Water’s subsequent reports detailing her investigation.

One of these women, Angela, gave birth to a child in 1970 who was kidnapped from her hospital room while Angela showered. The baby was never found, and Angela is convinced the recently unearthed child is her baby girl. She tells the police and Waters what she believes. While waiting for ultimate confirmation, the story undulates and ripples with frisson. Barton again uses multiple points of view shifting between Waters, Angela and two other women—a mother and daughter—to create a continuous story line.

The mother and daughter have a solid connection to East London, but seemingly not to Angela or the baby. With Water’s skillful, empathetic questioning, she begins to recreate the events of long ago, right down to a 1980s disco-themed reunion of the residents of the block where the worker found the remains. Barton’s stories ring with authenticity as she, like Waters, has 30 years of experience in journalism. Barton fulfills all expectations in this installment: The Child resoundly delivers.

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The Child

The Child

By Fiona Barton
Berkley
ISBN 9781101990483

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