“The Child”, by Fiona Barton

The discovery of a baby’s skeleton at a construction site in London is the focus of the mystery novel “The Child”. How long had the baby been buried? How had the baby gotten there? Most importantly, who is this baby? These are questions journalist Kate Waters tries to answer as she chases her next front page story.

In the process of trying to unravel the mystery, Kate and the police dust off a forty-year-old cold case in which a newborn was snatched from a maternity hospital and never found. Four decades later, we see the permanent scars that family still suffers from.

We also meet deeply troubled Emma, who reads about the skeleton and has a very different theory about who that baby was. Her theory is revealed during first person narration that covers a lot of her past and some of her present. She was a teenager victimized by the poor decisions of her wretched, self-obsessed mother. Now 42, she still suffers pain from these old wounds.

As Kate digs up answers, the mystery only becomes more confusing to her. Just who is this baby?

If only Kate had consulted with me, I could have told her what was what about halfway through the book, and my mystery solving skills are just average. That is my biggest complaint about this book. I kept expecting a big plot twist at the end, but the author didn’t really include any red herrings, so no other ending was possible. But even though I knew how it was going to end, there was still enough interesting (though grim) story line to keep me engaged.

One of the reasons I wanted to keep reading is to see if Emma’s awful mom got what was coming to her. I’m a little vindictive when it comes to villains and Ms. Barton wrote her so skilfully that it was really hard to have any pity for her. In fact, all the characters were well developed. Emma’s pain was palpable and Kate was a conflicted mix of sympathetic friend and opportunistic reporter. Both were interesting characters.

Overall, I would say this book is good but not a favorite. It’s pretty short so if you’re looking for something quick to read before you tackle your next substantial book, this may fit the bill.

Have you read “The Child”? What did you think?

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3 thoughts on ““The Child”, by Fiona Barton

  1. thanks for the review of The Child. have you read The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman? one of the characters in the book has been diagnosed with ALS. it’s the next book our local book club will be reading.

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