The Child

Written by Fiona Barton

Review written by Maureen Carlyle


The Child
Bantam Press
RRP: £12.99
Released: June 29 2017
HBK

This is a second novel by Fiona Barton, following her much-lauded The Widow.  It also features the crime journalist Kate Waters, when she finds herself investigating a crime in which the police and her own crime editor are not greatly interested.

The skeleton of a very young baby (possibly new-born) has been discovered on a building site in Woolwich.  Forensic examinations are not much use in the identification of very small babies.  The story creates some interest locally, but the original houses on the site were demolished many years ago, and the only thing the forensics team can come up with (from the plastic bag the body was wrapped in), is that it was buried in the 1970s or later.

In parallel with Kate's investigation into who was living in the demolished houses in the 1970s and 80s; we are introduced to three women, two of whom want to hide the past, and one who desperately wants to find out the truth about her missing baby (who was stolen from the maternity hospital the day after her birth). But if the body is that of the stolen baby, she was buried at Woolwich years after she disappeared from the maternity hospital, and her mother, Angela, never lived there. 

The other two women are a mother and daughter, Jude and Emma, who have been seriously estranged for most of their lives, but both lived for a time in the Woolwich terrace.  Jude was a true hippy, and after she divorced Emma's father; had brief and stormy relationships with a number of men, then settled down with Will, an older man who was a popular university lecturer.  This relationship ended when Emma suddenly changed from a happy, contented girl into the worst teenager imaginable with constant tantrums (except when she shut herself up in her room).  The situation became so bad that Jude and Will threw her out of the house, although she was only 15.  Emma never came back to live with her mother, who was deserted by Will soon after Emma's departure.  With the help of an old school friend, Emma pulled herself together, got into university and ended up as a successful free-lance book editor, married a kind and caring man.  She is now just about on speaking terms with Jude, and occasionally visits her.

Kate puts an ad in the paper to try and trace anybody who knows anything about the dead child and is contacted by Angela, who has become convinced that the child is her missing baby Alice, although the time-scale is all wrong.  Kate manages to persuade the police to do a forensic test on both Angela and the dead baby to see what lies in the DNA and therefore if there is a match.

The ingenious plot of this engaging narrative picks up pace towards a truly thrilling climax.  The cast of characters are real, believable people, flawed like all of us; with

Kate is a particularly appealing character because she is compassionate as well as keenly ambitious.  



Home
Book Reviews
Features
Interviews
News
Columns
Authors
Competitions
Blog
Shop
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor

THIS WEBSITE IS © SHOTS COLLECTIVE. NOT TO BE REPRODUCED ELECTRONICALLY EITHER WHOLLY OR IN PART WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION OF THE EDITOR.