Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

Publisher: Berkley
Pub. Date: June 27th, 2017
Pages: 384

Genre: Thriller / Suspense

You can bury the story . . . but you can’t hide the truth

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…

What Did I Think About the Story?

I have a confession to make: I have not yet read Fiona Barton's debut novel, The Widow.  I might be one of the last readers on the planet who hasn't read it, but there you are. I've read all the excellent reviews and even purchased a copy but I just haven't gotten around to finding the time to dig in. I mention this as somewhat of an explanation as to why I jumped at the chance to read this, her sophomore novel. Between this urge to get ahead of the game and read it before it comes out and the attention-grabbing synopsis above I was not going to let this one pass me by and be relegated to the  never-ending TBR pile. I'm so glad I fit this one into my reading schedule because it definitely kept me entertained and was the perfect distraction for my rainy day weekends in Florida!

The novel begins with the discovery of a baby's skeleton during the demolition of a house in London and continues for a little over a year as the police and journalist Kate Waters investigate to find out not only who the "Building Site Baby" is but why she was buried there in the first place. The story goes back and forth between four perspectives: Kate, a journalist looking to not only help uncover who the baby is but hopefully use the story to reignite her somewhat stagnant career; Emma, a woman who grew up on the street where the baby was found and who seems to begin having a resurgence of mental health issues triggered by learning about the discovery; Jude, Emma's mother who kicked her out of the house at sixteen at the prompting of her boyfriend; and Angela, a woman who's baby was kidnapped from the hospital decades ago and who never got over the loss of her newborn. The story unfolds somewhat slowly at first and these women seem to only tenuously be linked to each other by their reactions to the discovery of the baby. However, as the story begins to pick up (somewhere around 1/3 of the way in) the ties between the women become more solid, all leading to an incredibly shocking revelation.

I have to say that, whenever I start a mystery or thriller book, I always write down my initial prediction of what the outcome of the story will be and, in this case, I was pretty darn close in my prediction, although the "big reveal" and the way we got to that discovery completely threw me for a loop. I think having Kate Waters, a seasoned journalist with quite the skill at getting to the heart of a mystery and getting people to open up to her, as one of the main characters was perfect and made the revelations feel natural and realistic. While some of the smaller surprises were easy to see coming I still enjoyed seeing how we got there and learning the reasons things happened the way they did.

Possibly my favorite part of the story were the characters, especially Kate. She is such a salty yet compassionate and resourceful person and I just loved the spots of levity and shots of adrenaline she brought to the table. While the other characters weren't quite as likeable (especially Jude and some of the secondary male characters) they were all very well developed and realistic and all served a purpose in the overall development of the story. Emma and Angela provided the most sympathetic situations and while they were both put through hell in different ways I was very satisfied with how their stories tied up.

Something else I enjoyed about the story was how it developed to be so much more than just the discovery of a buried baby. It dealt with the complicated relationships between mothers and their children and the myriad of outcomes that can develop from that sort of relationship. There are few relationships more complex then between a parent and their growing children and I enjoyed watching these different scenarios play out.

The Child is wonderful summer reading and I very much enjoyed my time with it. While I wouldn't call this face-paced or necessarily "page-turning suspense" I would say it's an excellent mystery filled with interesting characters placed in some unimaginable situations. I am now very excited to make some time to read Fiona Barton's first novel!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's okay. I'm not really sure what it has to do with the story and doesn't really reveal anything, but it's interesting enough that I would want to find out more about the book if I passed it on the shelves.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Penguin Random House/Berkley for a free copy of The Child in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Continue below for more information about the book and it's author.

Early Praise for The Child

One of Publishers Weekly and Bustle’s Most Anticipated Books of 2017

Readers “will be rewarded with startling twists—and a stunning, emotionally satisfying conclusion.”—STARRED Publishers Weekly review

“Barton’s second well-plotted outing, with its sustained tension and believable characters, is an excellent addition to the popular psychological thriller genre.”—STARRED Library Journal review

“Immersive, heartbreaking, and addictive”—Crime By the Book

“Tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying … definitely one of the year’s must-reads.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Fiona Barton has outdone herself with THE CHILD. An engrossing, irresistible story about the coming to light of a long-buried secret and an absolutely fabulous read—I loved it!”—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

Buy the Book


About the Author

It was the allure of a hidden story that propelled Fiona Barton to her long-time career in news. A
journalist and British Press Awards “Reporter of the Year,” she has worked at the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, and brings that experience to bear in her novels.

You can discover more about Fiona on her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I just discovered your site and admire your reading chops. I'm lucky to get through two books a month!


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Pat! And thank you for your kind words! I've started to slow down somewhat at the moment and only got through 2 books last months, but I'm hoping life slows down a little so I can pick up the reading! Too many books, not enough time!

      Welcome and I hope you enjoy what you read here :)!