The Child by Fiona Barton
Published: June 27, 2017, Penguin Canada
At a construction site in London, a workman unearths the chilling skeletal remains of a baby. Nothing can be found on the possible identity, the baby’s parents or how the body ended up buried at the site of old housing units being demolished. Enter Kate Waters – reporter and journalist hungry for a story and decides to look into the case of the “Building Site Baby” (who also made a debut in Barton’s first novel, The Widow).
Kate’s not searching for the answers for the sake of a good story but to also give the grieving family, wherever they are, some closure. Her investigation leads her to the unsolved disappearance of a baby from a maternity ward in 1970, where a woman named Angela claimed that her infant daughter was stolen from her hospital room years ago and never found. Could they be related? Little does Kate know that this would explode into something much bigger than she could’ve predicted.
The Child is told from different point of views and has four leading ladies; Kate, Angela, Emma and Jude. Angela has never fully recovered the trauma of having her baby girl stolen and it has affected her entire life. Upon seeing the newspaper article on the “Burial Site Baby” she cannot help but feel that this child might have been her Alicia that was stolen from a hospital more than a decade ago, but she never lost hope of finding her one-day.
Emma is a nervous adult who became intrigued as well as possessed when she sees the story of the baby. She struggles because the remains were found where she used to live with her mom, Jude and her mom’s boyfriend many decades ago. Jude was always a selfish person – she threw Emma out of the house when she was a teenager and only had time for her boyfriend – not her only child. And although Emma has tried to confide in her mother, Jude still won’t listen. Now Emma is living in fear that her perfect life with husband, Paul, could be torn apart as her long buried secrets are finally dug up.
Barton packs her writing with drama and suspense that will increase the tension with each chapter and as the plot develops. The narratives are enticing, showing how each character is vulnerable and struggles with their inner demons. The on going plots in The Child give continuous unpredictable twists and turns that often changes the whole course of story line. The overall mystery is alluring and chilling, that readers will stay interested, wanting to know how Angela, Emma and Jude’s past might be connected and what happened to the “Burial Site Baby.”