The story instigates a macabre curiosity. Whose baby? How long has it been there? What manner of monster would bury an innocent?
The discovery suggests the burial wasn't recent. Identifying a newborn's DNA that had been hidden underground for years would be a challenge to say the least.
Fiona Barton (author of The Widow) brings her intriguing storytelling to the fore once again with The Child.
Three women are at the heart of this plot. Kate Waters is the lead investigative journalist, who is looking for "the story". Angela, is a mother who's baby was stolen from the hospital forty years ago. Angela's baby has never been found and this gruesome discovery may offer some sort of solace and peace. Or so she desperately hopes. Emma is an editor who is also curious in the story.
The book moves between the various narratives, chapter by chapter. Personally, I enjoy this type of storytelling, as I find it gives the reader a three sixty degree view, which in turn helps get one invested in all the suspense.
Fiona Barton is one of those writers who writes for the craft. I could not skim through this book. Speed reading was out the question as I wanted to follow each word, each sentence, to become a better writer myself. Kate Water's character is finely tuned. In a world dominated by men, she manages to patiently navigate her surroundings, knowing when to push an adversary's buttons, and when not to rock the boat.
"Shut up Gordon. You're just jealous you haven't got one. What the hell am I going to do with him?"
"Well don't sleep with him or Mandy will tear your head off."
The crassness of his remark made Kate burn, but she laughed with him, a survival technique learned early on in a world dominated by men and drink."
This excerpt may infuriate many feminists, but it's also the reality of how some women think and undoubtedly a technique they use to manoeuvre through life. You have to understand, everyone is different. Women aren't monolithic. The way one woman navigates the world may not be the route chosen by others. Each one has to find her comfort zone. Likewise, there's not one way of navigating a male-dominated workplace. Everyone has a different personality, and Kate Waters is by no means an alpha (and there's nothing wrong with that).
The Child has intelligent writing that keeps the reader engaged, with characters that you care about and that some can identify with, as well as a plot that keeps you reading (even though you think you've figured it out). I did think I had the mystery in the bag early on; but even though I seemed to have the ending figured out, it seemed there were some finer details that I missed.
In reviewing The Widow for sukasareads.com, I mentioned that Fiona Barton is one of the finest debut writers to watch out for. I'm glad that I was not wrong in my initial assessment. Readers who love books such as The Couple Next Door, Need You Dead and The Girl On The Train, will find The Child just as irresistible.