THE CHILD by Fiona Barton


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Three women's lives become entwined when a newborn's skeleton is discovered beneath a bulldozed London building site, exposing secrets buried as deep as the fragile bones.

Journalist Kate Waters—who appeared in Barton’s debut, The Widow (2016), which also employed a multicharacter approach to a thorny crime—sees a throwaway mention in another paper of a baby’s bones found during a construction project and files it away as a human-interest story she could pursue. Kate isn’t the only one who’s drawn to the Building Site Baby. Book editor Emma Simmonds, whose story Barton develops the most slowly but whose payoff is worth the wait, feels her anxiety skyrocket when she sees the article, though she hides her interest from her professor husband, Paul. Former nurse Angela Irving has the most visceral reaction: she’s convinced the bones belong to her daughter, Alice, snatched in 1970 from the maternity hospital and never found despite the suspicion cast on Angela and her husband, Nick. As Kate develops the story at the Daily Post, it becomes clear that identifying the bones is only the first of many questions surrounding the case, particularly as details of Emma’s potential involvement come to light. Barton flirts with melodrama at times but pulls back and allows her characters to develop into fully realized, deeply scarred women whose wounds aren’t always visible.

This is as much a why-dunit as a whodunit, with the real question being whether it’s possible to heal and live with the truth after hiding behind a lie for so long.

Pub Date: June 27th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-101-99048-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2017


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