I was delighted to have been asked to review the latest novel from Fiona Barton, The Suspect, as part of the Blog Tour. As a huge fan of her previous two novels, The Widow and The Child, I was really looking forward to the third one featuring journalist Kate Waters. Thank you to Anne over at RandomThingsTours, the publisher and the author for the ARC for review.
Before I share my views, here’s what the official blurb says:
The new must-read standalone crime thriller from the author of Sunday Times bestseller, The Widow, and the Richard & Judy No. 1 bestseller, The Child – featuring unforgettable journalist, Kate Waters.
The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.
When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.
Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.
And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .
This is the 3rd of the author’s books featuring journalist Kate Waters, however, each can be read as a stand-alone. The books seem to have been either loved or hated by readers but I am definitely in the love them category!
This is every parent’s nightmare, your kids head off for new adventures travelling the world and you can only hope they will be safe. In the author’s last book, journalist, Kate Waters son, Jake has done just that. A few short calls and some emails she can only hope he is safe but something inside her is niggling away. For Kate, her job is just about to become personal.
It’s traditionally the quiet time in the world of news when Kate happens upon the story of the missing backpackers in Thailand. Lesley and Malcolm are forced to bring the police into their quiet world when their daughter Alex and her friend Rosie go missing on their gap year and Kate finds herself embroiled in much more than she bargained for when she begins her investigations.
I have really enjoyed reading about Kate, it is so refreshing to have a protagonist who is in their 50s and not presented as past it! Kate’s character is authentic, she does worry about all the things that we can relate to – the fear of redundancy in favour of the up and coming young journalists, the changes in the work environment and how others perceive her. But while she worries she doesn’t back down and rises to the challenge of getting on and dealing with it. I also think it is a positive angle to have journalism presented with empathy and compassion while acknowledging the need for the story. There was a real human element about the book that resonated with me, giving it a very real sense of authenticity.
In the last novel, Kate was given the responsibility of looking after newest recruit, Joe Jackson, a prospect she did not relish at the time, not wanting to have to “babysit” one of the young workers. However, their working relationship has blossomed and I felt that it was an authentic portrayal of intergenerational working relationships. And boy I was so glad that Kate was not portrayed as some kind of predatory older woman! It was also fascinating to read about Kate’s experience on the other side of the journalistic community as she watches her peers sniff around her looking for a story.
DI Bob Sparkes plays a bigger role in this book and his own personal life is taking a nosedive as his wife’s health continues to fail. He has been featured in all three novels but it is in this one that he comes to the fore. He and Kate are close and I can sense a shift in their relationship this time around and I’m keen to see where this goes in the future.
The Suspect explores family expectations, dysfunctions and personal responsibility through the eyes of the two missing girls, their parents, Kate and Bob Sparkes. I particularly enjoyed the chapters of the book told from the point of view of the missing girls and if I’m completely honest I’d have liked there to be more of their voices in the book It is an eye-opening look into the lives that our sons and daughters may live while desperately trying to maintain the appearance of the life their parents expected them to take. I had a real sense of unease reading this novel, the storyline hooking and drawing me in right from the beginning. With some perfectly executed twists, the second half of the book definitely had me reading at a breaknot speed! The ending was a little confusing but definitely left me feeling that Fiona Barton has more to tell and I await with bated breath for the next instalment!
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About the author
Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been published in 36 countries and optioned for television. Her second novel, The Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller. Born in Cambridge, Fiona currently lives in Sussex and south-west France.
Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards.
While working as a journalist, Fiona reported on many high-profile criminal cases and she developed a fascination with watching those involved, their body language and verbal tics. Fiona interviewed people at the heart of these crimes, from the guilty to their families, as well as those on the periphery, and found it was those just outside the spotlight who interested her most . . .