by Fiona Barton
On-Sale: June 27, 2017
You can bury the story . . . but you can’t hide the truth
*One of Publishers Weekly and Bustle’s Most Anticipated Books of 2017*
*A TIME “Top 10” Summer Thriller*
*Pre-publication exclusives featured by Entertainment Weekly and theSkimm*
*Praise from Lee Child, Shari Lapena, and Clare Mackintosh *
*Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal*
*A June 2017 Library Reads Selection*
The author of the stunning New York Times bestseller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense.
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 problem is that a secret takes on a life of its own over time. I used to believe if I didn’t think about what happened, it would shrivel and die. But it didn’t. It sits in the middle of a growing tangle of lies and fabrications, like a fat fly trapped in a spider’s web. If I say anything now it will mean ripping everything apart. So I must say nothing. I have to protect it. The secret, that is. It’s what I’ve done for as long as I can remember. Kept it safe.
“Student Welfare? Goodness, he’ll be knee-deep in drugs and sexually transmitted diseases,’’ I say, relishing the idea of Derek, the most pompous man on earth, dealing with condom machines.
“Because I want to know what happened, Joe. It’s called human interest. Not all news is about soap stars or politicians. This has got the makings of a good story. I can feel it in my waters.” Joe looked slightly squeamish. “It’s a saying, dear. Nothing gyno about it.” He looked mortified and she felt terrible. She was turning into one of the dinosaurs.
Kate had been sent to try to get a talk with the family. They’d told her to piss off. She’d been glad. They looked like the cast of Deliverance.
The Child was a tautly written, tightly coiled, complex, and intense read. I was transfixed by the intriguing, well-constructed, and maddingly paced storyline. I adored Kate, an overlooked reporter whose efforts solved a 42-year-old crime when she was unable to walk away from a quagmire of a mystery, one that started as a small snippet of detail from a two-line story she noticed in the newspaper. The storyline crackled with tension and Ms. Barton’s writing maintained a constant simmer as the plot slowly evolved with sharp and cleverly depicted details and emotional nuances. The plot bore an aura of heaviness emanating from the tragic find of newborn skeletal remains at a building site. I immediately began to devise and systematically discard multiple theories before finally settling on a heart-stopping possibility when the DNA evidence pointed first in one direction, then strangely, in another.
The characters weren’t always admirable or likable, yet were consistently and oddly fascinating, clever, and uniquely compelling. I was riveted and engrossed as the intricate web of deceit and multiple layers of secrets were gradually untangled. Sigh, Ms. Barton delivered an ingenious plot and an expertly written and well-crafted book, but I believe I need to invest in a spa day before I scour my list for a comedy to read next.
My career has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years. I have been a journalist – senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where I won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards, gave up my job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and since 2008, have trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists all over the world.