Title: The Child
Author: Fiona Barton
Publisher: Bantam Press
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.
The Child is a fantastic, twisty psychological thriller by Fiona Barton, author of The Widow. I hugely enjoyed The Widow [read my review here] but I’m happy to say that I loved The Child even more! It’s a standalone novel but I was very pleased to see the return of journalist Kate Waters, and The Widow focuses on her investigation into the remains of a baby found on a building site (the police only appear as shown through other characters’ telling of the story), and also narratives from Emma and Margaret, two people who are interested in the case for their own reasons.
The Child features more of Fiona Barton’s fantastic writing, effectively weaving suspense with little details and aspects of everyday life that add such richness to the characters and the plot. I could actually imagine knowing some of the characters in ‘real life’.
I always enjoy stories where I can learn more about journalists and reporters’ lives, and it’s nice to read a novel based around a journalist’s investigation instead of police (the police investigation is included but told only through the perspectives of other characters, when they’ve spoken to one of the detectives or enquired about the case’s progress, etc).
The story is gritty and shocking at times but manages to avoid being overly disturbing or grim; Fiona gets the balance just right, and I enjoyed every page. I didn’t want it to end! Fantastic!