Book Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Hello and happy Friday Eve, fellow book people! I’ve got a book review of a psychological suspense novel today.

Cover image and summary from Goodreads.

Title: The Suspect (Kate Waters #3)

Author: Fiona Barton

Publication Date: January 22, 2019

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…

The Suspect is listed as the third in the Kate Waters series but can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel, which is how I read it.

  • The narrative involves alternating points of view–we hear from DI Bob Sparkes, the mother of one of the girls, one of the girls herself, and Kate–and the author interweaves each character’s story together expertly over the course of the story.
  • I’ll admit, I go into suspense, thrillers, and crime novels expecting the plot to take center stage the entire time I read so I was impressed by the characterizations. The author is really good at creating relatable characters quickly, with merely a glimpse into a character’s mind.
  • Although the novel begins with a gradual build up of tension as the author introduces characters and sets up the story, the initially slower pace is worth the wait for the suspense it builds up to and the pay off.
  • The audiobook. It’s narrated by four different voice actors, each of them skillful in helping to bring the twisty story–and its flawed characters–to life in sound. I was immersed from the start.
  • Barton raises questions I was still thinking about for days after I finished reading.
  • The handling of some problematic stuff:
    • In the audiobook, the voice actor(s) give the Thai characters–particularly one character who has a significant amount of dialogue–accents that are, at best, unbelievable.
    • The depiction of a young woman sleeping with whomever she wants as somehow saying something about her character/morality. (Can you tell I’m really tired of slut shaming?)

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Entertaining, missing persons psychological suspense that could’ve been ripped from the headlines.
  • Relatable and believable characters.
  • Thought-provoking, immersive story.
  • Asks serious questions like:
    • How does the media sensationalize events involving crime and shape them into a narrative that they can sell? How do victims of crime and their families cope with this phenomenon?
    • Where is the boundary between a parent protecting their child and a parent shielding their child from the consequences of their child’s actions?
    • How do we mold the truth in our telling and retelling of our experiences?

Have you read this book or any of the other novels by Fiona Barton? If so, what did you think?

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