All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton

on January 30, 2019

The Suspect (Kate Waters #3)
Fiona Barton
Transworld Publishers (Random House UK)
2019, 384p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Widow returns with a brand new novel of twisting psychological suspense about every parent’s worst nightmare…

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

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, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.

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…

I read the first book in this series, The Widow several years ago now but somehow I missed the second book, The Child. And in fact I was only aware of this one because the publisher offered me a copy. It goes to show how hard it can be sometimes, to keep up with new releases and track a series. Having really enjoyed The Widow and liked this one as well, I am definitely going to have to go back and check out The Child.

Journalist Kate Waters gets the heads up that two young girls have gone missing over in Thailand. They’re supposed to be on the trip of their lives after high school, before getting on with the rest of their lives. It has been meticulously planned and facebook and social media and texting allow the girls to check in every day. When a few days go by with no word, when the girls were supposed to contact their parents to open their school results and their social media has gone dead, the alarm is raised.

This brings in Detective Bob Sparkes and he and Kate have always had quite an amicable working relationship. Kate perhaps feels attached to this case because her own son has dropped out of Uni and disappeared to the other side of the world (Thailand also, to be exact) to ‘find himself’. They hear from him rarely and I think this sort of thing is Kate’s worst nightmare. And something she probably this about every day.

This escalates from a missing person case where mostly people are trying to reassure the parents that kids do this all the time. They get distracted, forget to update their social media. Probably just took off somewhere on an adventure and forgot to inform anyone. And that is probably something that might’ve been the case years ago but in this day of social media where you can basically update your life in real time and communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world in seconds, it’s more difficult to believe. There aren’t too many places you can’t get wifi these days and even remote places in Thailand provide the perfect instagram opportunities. The reality of the girls’ disappearance is far grimmer.

There’s a large portion of this book devoted to the Thai police’s deliberate incompetence in an investigation which results in the UK having to step in and basically take over and start everything from scratch. This just delays everything, means that crucial evidence is probably lost and gives the parents of the girls even more distress. It seems like the Thai police are bought and paid for and they’re willing to write off foreigners as easy come, easy go. Without the dedication of Kate Waters (who ends up personally connected to the case when it seems as though her son may be involved somehow) and Bob Sparkes, it seems as though the parents would never have gotten the answers they needed to help.

Which makes me wonder how often something does go wrong overseas for travellers and how it might just be easier to write it off as an accident or this or that and close the case, rather than highlight the dangers of travelling to what is a highly popular tourist area. Lots of people go to Thailand from all over the world – it’s famously cheap, there are many beautiful beaches and there’s also a lot of interesting cultural stuff as well.

Kate is a journalist who becomes the story in this and I found that part to be very well done. Because of her experience, she’s able to recognise the tricks her colleagues are pulling on her in order to get her comfortable and try and get the story. She suddenly gets to experience what it’s like to be relentlessly door knocked and having people invading her privacy and printing things about her family. Digging into her son’s past – in fact they dig up things about her son that Kate and her husband don’t even know. They’re forced to recognise that much of what he’s told them has been a lie and they really have no idea what he’s been up to the entire time he’s been overseas. Likewise much is made of the ‘social media life’ – where you can make everything look perfect, portray that you are having a fabulous time, that everything is amazing so that all the people at home are envious and don’t realise that the reality can actually be very different. This is what happens with the two girls – because one of them has so many #livingthelife posts, her parents don’t realise that things are going wrong until she completely disappears. It takes time to gather the information they need, because no teen on holiday ever tells their parents what’s really going on!

I really enjoyed this, especially the multiple view points. I felt that way of telling it gave such a good overall picture and the reader was never really left waiting for other characters to finally stumble on things. I also liked the swerve and the way in which Kate was forced to examine her career and what it’s like to be on the other side of a press barrage. I appreciated her professional relationship with DS Sparkes and how that was tested once it became clear that Kate’s son was somehow connected but also how they worked through it, both realising that their jobs are somewhat easier when they cooperate, trade information and work together respectfully.

I honestly need to keep better track of this series! Time to go back and read The Child.

8/10

Book #17 of 2019

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