When the bones of a small child are found at a demolition site in London, journalist Kate Waters latches on to the opportunity for an exciting scoop. As she begins asking questions around the neighbourhood, long-buried secrets and family scandals are brought to light.
The Child is told from the perspectives of four women — Kate, who wants to protect her job at the newspaper from the increasing demand for immediate but shallow online content; Angela, whose baby was kidnapped in the 1970s and never found; Emma, a recluse with mental health conditions who becomes invested in Kate’s story; and Emma’s mother Jude who is trying to mend her strained relationship with her daughter.
It’s a much more traditional thriller than The Widow, but shares the earlier book’s fascination with women’s motivations for seemingly inexplicable and at times horrifying actions. I thought The Child had a faster clip and a much tighter feel.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Barton’s writing is strong and the characters are well-crafted. I especially connected with Angela’s story, and wish she had played a bigger role throughout the story. The big reveal isn’t too difficult to figure out; it seemed fairly clear where the story was heading by about the 3/4 mark, but that didn’t detract from the reading experience. As with The Widow, it’s not so much the initial mystery of the baby’s skeleton that drives the narrative as it is seeing how the various characters interact and why they make the choices they do.
The Child is a solid character-driven thriller that’ll keep you entertained on a summer weekend.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.