I have just finished reading ‘The Child, by Fiona Barton- what a gripping novel! I think I finished it in about a week, which is pretty amazing considering I have a one year old who doesn’t like to go to bed, a part-time job and a new blog!
The story follows three different women. Kate, a middle-aged newspaper reporter who notices a small news item about the skeleton of a baby that was found on a building site and thinks it is worth further investigation. Then there is Emma. She married a much older father figure and works from home dealing with extreme anxiety, stemming from her turbulent teenage years. Finally, there is Angela. A married mother of two who had a baby girl abducted from the hospital soon after birth. Tragically her daughter has never been found. It becomes obvious early on that these three women’s lives are linked, but the book keeps you guessing until the final few chapters how they weave around each other.
As the investigation into the baby develops, we follow Kate in and out of the other women’s lives. She works closely with the police, often stepping a little too close to the line, jeopardising her relationship with the constable who feeds her information. Her experience in investigative journalism sees her use every trick in the book to try and uncover the truth. She is landed with a young trainee Joe, who is more familiar with the fast-paced online journalism of the modern world. However, with Kate’s mentorship, he soon gets stuck into trawling the library for information, meeting locals and building contacts. The two of them delve deeper into a human tragedy story that needs to be told.
The novel explores many sensitive topics including sexual assault, grooming, alcohol and drug abuse, parental love, teenage pregnancy and abandonment. It provides the reader with some understanding of the challenges investigating historical crimes and the limits that DNA evidence can have. The book draws you in quickly with fast-paced chapters often leaving you wanting more and desperate for some answers to how the stories are intertwined. Unfortunately for me, I guessed the final twist a few chapters before it was revealed so spent most of the end of the book frustratingly wondering if I was right!
Will the story have a happy ending for all involved? Why don’t you read it and let me know what you think?