REVIEW: The Child by Fiona Barton (Kate Waters #2)

Series: Kate Waters

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: psychological thriller, disturbing domestic situations, female protagonists, unreliable narrators

Quick Review: A worthy follow-up to THE WIDOW; a twisting, fascinating and compelling read that keeps you guessing and second-guessing to the end.


As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

THE CHILD is a second novel featuring journalist Kate Waters, who we first saw in Fiona Barton’s novel THE WIDOW. It’s not a direct sequel, and you can absolutely read THE CHILD with no knowledge of the events of THE WIDOW.

Much like the first novel in what might become a very exciting series, THE CHILD is a psychological thriller that follows several points of view – but none of the narrators is totally reliable. At the very least, their contradicting stories make you wonder which one is telling the truth, or at the very least what parts of the story they are omitting or changing in their own minds. Even though you have direct access to the minds of all the individuals involved in the story, you never really end up fully trusting any of their ‘facts’, which is quite an accomplishment by Barton.

The other remarkable fact about the main characters: they are all women. The story is entirely carried by Emma, Angela and Kate, which is a refreshing change from your standard detective novel. And they are wonderfully human. They have all made mistakes, carry guilt, and occasionally act irrationally. It’s a joy to read about these very realistic characters – with only one instance of someone doing something slightly outside of the bounds of believability, but within the story it works.

And the plot is fantastic. The entire story feels like you really do know what happened, but you’re just missing a few details – and as you keep reading, you feel less and less sure of those details, second-guessing what you’ve assumed. It makes the novel harder to put down the farther in you get, and the ending manages to surprise.

Another brilliant piece of writing from Fiona Barton, THE CHILD is an excellent summer read. If you haven’t yet, pick it up and prepare to be pulled into her mesmerizing storytelling.

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