Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona Barton is a fast paced mystery.

Two girls are missing.  They took off from England to go on a holiday in Thailand, before starting college.

Reporter Kate Waters quickly learns, while she is investigating the disappearance, that she has become the story as her son is somehow involved.

As the mystery unfolds, Barton explores the reactions that Kate and the mothers of the two girls have regarding their children.

I enjoyed THE SUSPECT.  I particularly liked the novel’s structure.  Each short chapter is designated from the point of view of a character or is a throwback to what actually happened.  I especially enjoyed the throwbacks and emails of one of the girls to her friend back home, learning what really happened while also following the investigation.

I reviewed Barton’s debut novel, THE WIDOW.  Some of the characters are in both novels including Kate Waters (“The Reporter”) and DI Bob Sparkes (“The Detective”) .  I didn’t get a chance to read Barton’s second novel, THE CHILD (An NPR Best Book of the Year), but understand it also features the reporter Kate Waters.

First Paragraph

The Reporter

SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2014

The call comes at three a.m.  The jagged ring of the bedside telephone tearing a hole in our sleep.

I reach out a hand to silence it.

“Hello,” I whisper.

Static whispers back to me.  I press the phone harder to my ear.

“Who is this?”

I feel Steve roll over to face me, but he doesn’t speak.

The hissing static fades and I hear a voice.

“Hello. Hello,” it says, searching for me.

I pull myself up and switch on the light. Steve groans and rubs his eyes.

“Kate? What’s going on?” he says.

“Who is this?” I repeat. But I know.


“Mum,” the voice says, the word distorted by distance – or drink, perhaps, I think uncharitably.

“Sorry I missed your birthday,” it says.

The line fizzes again and he’s gone.

I look at Steve.

“Was it him? he asks.

I nod. “He’s sorry he missed my birthday …”

It’s the first time in seven months that he’s phoned. There’ve been three e-mails, but our eldest son told us early on that he wouldn’t be contactable by phone. Said he was freeing himself of all the stress that constant calls would bring. He’d stay in touch with us.

What Other Are Saying

It reads quickly and I was interested in how it was all going to come together. This is the third book in the Kate Waters series, but I didn’t feel lost at all jumping in without having read the first two books. A compelling mystery and a perfect palate cleanser. – Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves

As the police and press shift from one suspect to another, taking many wrong turns along the way, I kept guessing, and then learning something different at the next turn. The final answers left a few loose threads…and some moral ambiguity. 5 stars – Laurel-Rain Snow @ Curl Up And Read 

Fiona Barton’s first two novels, “The Widow” and “The Child,” were international bestsellers. The British novelist’s third offering, “The Suspect,”deserves equal success. It’s an expertly written look at a painful subject: the way parents often suffer when their children go forth to confront the dangers of this world. – The Washington Post

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (January 22, 2019)

Reading Guide

(Click To Purchase From Amazon or Read More)

Material Disclosure

Thank you to the author, Fiona Barton and the publishers at Penguin Random House/Berkley Publishing Group for providing me a copy of this novel.

I received this book, The Suspect by Fiona Barton, free of charge, from the publisher, Berkley Hardcover.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  1. Glad you enjoyed this book. I’ve been hearing good reports about it. I’ve also read or rather listened to THE WIDOW. I’ll get around to it at some point I imagine. 🙂

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