As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…
Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for a review!
The Child brings back journalist Kate Waters, first seen in Fiona Barton’s The Widow. When a baby’s skeleton is found at a construction site, the lives of three women are affected. Kate Waters seizes the story and tries to figure out where the tiny body came from.
Delightfully British with well written characters, The Child is another treasure. Kate’s interaction with her coworkers are dead on, as Barton illustrates how print journalists must cope with 24 hour online news media. The women’s family dynamics are integral to the story; giving the reader the backstory slowly and tantalizingly. Each woman gets to tell her story – there are changing points of view throughout and we see firsthand what Kate, Emma, and Angela are going through. Emma’s mother, Jude, is also part of the dynamic. I found Jude to be annoying and narcissistic; she was easy to loathe. Emma and Angela were both dealing with their own mental issues as well, and at times all of the angst became overwhelming. That didn’t deter me from continuing to read – but at times I wished there was a bit less whining and a little more action.
Kate is an expert reporter, adept at the art of manipulation to get her story. As a matter of fact, almost every character manipulates someone in some way. Barton is a master of keeping a dark story hovering just above the despair line, tempering the distress with hope.
Some reviews have noted that the plot twists were easy to spot- not for me! I had a feeling that these women were going to be intertwined somehow (for plot purposes, of course), but could not predict what was going to happen until Barton gave the Big Reveal. I was appropriately shocked and enthralled. Everything came together in a satisfying way and I felt that there was room for Kate’s character to grow, possibly to be featured in another book.
Barton’s insight into the female psyche is peerless, and knows how to illustrate the seamy side of the human condition perfectly. I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next work.
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