A Book Spy Review: ‘The Suspect’ by Fiona Barton

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The SuspectWhen it comes to her career as a reporter, Kate Waters puts chasing the next big story above everything else. So when she heard about a couple of eighteen-year-old girls who were kidnapped while traveling through Thailand during a coveted “gap-year,” Waters rushes to be the first on the scene, desperate to find the story and the truth.

Alexandra O’Connor and her neighborhood friend had their whole summer planned out. But after landing in Thailand, where they hoped to live it up before starting college the following year, things go horribly wrong for the teens. After weeks of not hearing from them, O’Connor’s parents suspect something is wrong and alert the authorities, kicking off an international manhunt for the girls. Sadly, their bodies turn up in a club that burned down under potentially suspicious circumstances, providing a tragic ending to the search efforts. 

Kate, who has helped British investigators crack a number of cases thanks to her solid reporting, is initially roped into the case by her longtime friend Det. Insp. Bob Sparkes, who thought Kate’s reporting might shed light on the international investigation. But when the devastating reality that the girls are dead strikes, it hits especially close to home for Waters. Still looking for information, Kate forces her way onto the team of detectives and individuals close to the girls’ families, bonding with the parents while withholding her own personal motivation. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Kate’s own son also went to Thailand two years ago, and she hasn’t heard from him since.

Hoping the current case might somehow be connected to her son’s whereabouts, Kate rolls up her sleeves and dives in without fully understanding what she’s getting herself into . . . 

While Barton hit it big with her last standalone, The Child (2017), her latest effort falls a bit short of those lofty expectations. The Suspect is much slower, takes a while to get going, and once it does, some of the characters are a tad shallow. Kate, who takes the lead early, is fleshed out nicely, and Barton does a nice job bringing the setting to life. Still, the lack of development for secondary characters makes it hard to relate to or care about anyone else in the story. And while the setup is solid, the plot ultimately concludes with a predictable ending that might food casual readers, but not big fans of the genre. 

Fiona Barton’s fans, who know what they’re getting with one of her thrillers, will eat this one up.

Book Details

Author: Fiona Barton
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1101990511
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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