The Suspect by Fiona Barton

By Ekta R. Garg

January 16, 2019

Release date: January 22, 2018

Genre: Mystery

Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars

A reporter discovers she has close ties to a story she’s covering and finds herself in the spotlight. As each piece of news comes to the forefront, she must decide whether she can remain an impartial bystander or become an involved mother. Author Fiona Barton brings back her smart journalist character in her latest novel The Suspect.

When a pair of teenage girls go missing during a trip to Thailand, British journalist Kate Waters jumps at the chance to cover the story. She’s built a reputation for herself at her paper and has enough contacts to guarantee she’ll get the exclusive interviews with the girls’ families as well as vetted information from the police. Despite the obvious jealousy from colleagues at rival papers, Kate uses the trust she’s built with her sources in the most honorable way.

Although she may not admit it to anyone else, the story has some personal resonance for Kate. Two years earlier, her older son, Jake, dropped out of his course at the university and decided to travel. Since then Kate and her husband have only had intermittent communication with Jake. Kate understands how the mothers of the two missing girls must feel. It’s almost as if Jake himself is missing.

She receives the shock of a lifetime when she discovers that not only is Jake not missing, he’s right in the center of the story of the girls in Thailand. Kate does the honorable thing and steps away from the story as a reporter, but that doesn’t stop her involvement as a mother. When word comes that the girls’ situation may have become much more complicated than anyone could imagine, Kate gets bombarded by the media and learns firsthand how the people in her own articles must feel. It makes her even more determined to get to the bottom of it all and bring Jake home.

Author Fiona Barton has returned with another thriller that will keep readers up late at night even as they agonize over the choices the characters make. Kate Waters is smart and confident, but Barton doesn’t let that get in the way of possible vulnerability. Readers who are mothers will feel Kate’s heartache and root her on. While her husband and younger son don’t figure in the story as much, Barton doesn’t abandon them completely. The overall affect reinforces the idea that sometimes a mother treads the path of parenthood in emotional isolation.

If the book is to be faulted anywhere, it’s in predictability. Readers will guess in many instances long before Kate does where the story will go. Some of the plot points won’t surprise anyone except the characters. Barton saves them by making them three-dimensional, well-rounded people and also with her artful prose, but it’s a shame that some of the thriller isn’t so much.

In the end, however, Barton does provide readers with a plot that also has heart. She manages to keep a few surprises in store, and in some cases she doesn’t hesitate to follow tragedy to its end. Not every story can end with roses and rainbows, and Barton makes that clear in this book while twisting readers’ emotions into the most delightful knots all at the same time.

Thriller lovers and those who enjoy Barton’s books will like The Suspect, which is why I recommend readers Bookmark it.