Kate Waters is a journalist in her mid forties. She is married to an oncologist and is the mother of two sons. Devoted to her work, she is very good at what she does.
When old friend D.I. Bob Sparkes calls to let her know about two British teenage girls who have gone missing in Thailand, the story captures her attention because it is a slow news period, AND, most importantly, Thailand is where her eldest son Jake has been living for the past two years. She and her husband have had little contact with Jake since he left and she is desperate to reunite with him again.
When she arrives in Bangkok the story escalates to reveal many inconsistencies, police corruption, and even more troubling – Jake seems to be a central player in the sordid story. Kate finds herself on the other side… she is no longer the ‘reporter’, she is now the ‘mother’ and a person her fellow reporters want to interview. She learns how her interviewees feel, and it is not always pleasant. She arrives at the painful truth that she is a better reporter than she is a mother…
“Everyone wants to know the truth. Except those who don’t.
Those who stand to lose by it. I know that now.”
Meanwhile, in some chapters, we learn the story of the missing teenage girls. Their story is distressing to say the least.
Though this is technically the third novel to feature journalist Kate Waters, I can heartily assure you that this novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. I have now read and enjoyed all three novels in the series.
Told via multiple points of view, “The Suspect” picks up some two years after the action in the last novel in which Kate’s oldest son Jake, had dropped out of university and left the country to ‘find himself’ in Thailand – a course of action that Kate strongly disapproved of.
The action in this book takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Southampton, England. It has elements of police procedural, but it also gives equal time to the families and their reactions to the developing story.
I greatly enjoyed reading about D.I. Bob Sparkes and his terminally ill wife. He became a much warmer and real personality for me. Kate Waters’ personality was also delved into a great deal in this book. She learns a lot about herself, and just what lengths she will go to protect her children. We learn more about the youngest staff reporter who works with Kate. Joe Jackson, whom Kate calls her ‘office son’.
The scenes in the book that told Alex O’Connor’s story (one of the missing girls), were poignant, unsettling, and in many ways terrifying. Alex’s character was very sympathetic.
As with her previous two titles, Fiona Barton has concocted a compelling story that is plausible and oftentimes distressing. The author’s many years of experience in journalism ensures that the story feels very authentic. The skillful writing causes the reader to become invested in the characters despite the complex police inquiry.
In summation, “The Suspect” is a worthy successor to the previous two titles, and I highly recommend the series to readers who enjoy thrillers that hold a ring of truth.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Berkley Publishing via Edelweiss. ISBN: 9781101990513 – ASIN: B07DZLGLX2 – 416 pages
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France.
Connect with Fiona Barton on Twitter.