Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton!

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It’s my favorite day of the week again!! There’s something absolutely intoxicating for me about Sunday’s – I feel productive and relaxed at the same time. It’s the easiest day for me to really focus on myself and my self-care routine to put me in the right head space for another week. I don’t know what everyone else’s weekend has been like but mine was fairly busy until today. It’s been 36 degrees in Dallas but that’s not stopped me from spending the morning and afternoon outside! I’ve got my portable heater, a new book, cozy blankets, and socks and have been posted up in the front yard enjoying the sun.

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Evidence of said days activities.

We’re coming to the end of the restriction portion of January’s Whole30 (I’ll do a post of my thoughts on it at the end) and will be starting a slow, nutritionist augmented re-introduction period but that also means doing Recipe and a Read posts will become a lot easier! I’ve just started The Bear and the Nightingale and I’ve already got some Russian recipes I’m really excited to bring ya’ll soon! However, today isn’t about that – today I’m bringing you a review for The Suspect by Fiona Barton! I read this with the Traveling Sister’s group and it’s a fun one with lots of discussion opportunities!

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Initial Thoughts:

nail biting

A real nail biter here folks.

Kate Waters is a dedicated, passionate journalist. Always seeking to be first on the story, with the best information. Kate Waters also struggles with her wayward son, who left for Phuket, Thailand two years previous to the story, and calls once or twice a year at most. Alex is finishing up in school, she’s young, vibrant and full of a zest for life and a will to travel the world. Her bestie Mags may have dropped out of their planned trip to Thailand, but an acquaintance Alex might not have always seen eye-to-eye with named Rosie, isn’t enough to deter Alex from her excitement to spread her wings and taste a new found freedom.

They’d never had to ring the police before in all their married life. The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on television or in the papers. Not theirs. 

Alex is a good kid, she’s as responsible as a kid her age can be. Her parents have allowed her to take this gap year and they’ve arranged specific times and dates there is to be communication from Alex – to ensure she’s doing alright. When Alex doesn’t check in with her parents – their worst fears are realized and they have to contact the police to report their daughter missing. She’s not just missing either, she’s a missing child internationally. This is when we are introduced to DS Zara Salmond and DI Bob Sparkes. Not only has Alex not reached out to her family, but the regular social media posts and emails have abruptly stopped. As the days slip by one by one, family and friends become more frenzied as they realize the girls have disappeared without a trace, and in Thailand no less.

She wrote a Things To Do, just like she would if she were at home. But instead of writing phone bank, buy cat food, DRY CLEANING!,  she put Find out how the fire started, Who else was in the hostel? Was there a party? Where were Alex and Rosie? WHY DIDN’T THEY GET OUT?

Not only are these parents worst fears realized but they’re thrust into immediate limelight in the worst way. As they’re grappling with the reality of their situation, they’ve also become a worldwide source of entertainment. The Suspect is told from multiple POVs – Kate Waters, DI Bob Sparkes, Alex’s mother Lesley and Alex herself. Switching up the perspectives really kept the forward momentum chugging along in a way that was at times sluggish and at others built suspense like Jenga blocks waiting to be toppled. As I’ve mentioned in many of my other reviews one thing I adore, that takes place most often in thriller novels, is little breakups in formatting. Barton dealt these out in spades with Facebook posts, emails, and police communication.

The premise of this story was endlessly compelling for me – I mean, two teen girls go missing in Thailand during their gap-year? The thing about thrillers is that they’re thrilling and they often play to our own worst fears. Highest among mine in a foreign country are foreign jails, and obviously, going freaking MISSING. We’re also given the typical flash-back format of a lot of thrillers which always adds another layer of suspense for me. Not knowing when we’re going to flip back and forth to, what we’re going to glimpse and if I’ll be able to put together the mystery has always been one of my favorite parts of this type of read.

Everyone looks like they are having a good time at first glance. But when I reach past Lars and zoom in on the faces, one by one, I see not everyone is laughing. Alex isn’t. And there is a boy standing behind her. His face is blank.

While I enjoyed Barton’s storytelling, her writing and her ability to build some serious suspense I still found myself a bit let down by this novel. The start of this book was achingly sluggish for me and I kept putting it down and reading other books instead because I found I just couldn’t connect with the characters or the story right off the bat. As the story progressed and the tension and suspense built up, and the forward progression sped along I found myself enjoying it much more than I had anticipated. However, Rosie might’ve been the single most grating character I’ve ever read and the bickering between Alex and Rosie grew incredibly tedious as the story wore on. In the end, this one felt fairly formulaic to me and while there were some surprises in there that I didn’t see coming, I didn’t feel particularly blown away by them either.  I did enjoy this and once it got moving I found it quite compelling, I just wish that it had been a bit more developed and had grabbed me from the start.

Thank you Netgalley for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Long Story Short:

eh

PSA: This is an EGGCELLENT show if you haven’t seen it.

Suggested For: Fans of Fiona Barton, fans of international missing person cases, fans of thrillers with a key focus on journalism and police procedurals.

Music Mood: Easy (Like Sunday Morning) by Charles Givings


Well, the rest of my day has me reading and helping my husband paint the hexegonal shelves he’s making me and I’m hoping to have another review for you guys tomorrow! 

Have you read Fiona Barton’s The Suspect? If so, what did you think? Have you read other works by Barton, what are your thoughts on those? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!

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8 thoughts on “Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton!”

  1. You always offer up a great review, Christina, and I love how you summerise who a novel will appeal too, as well. And while I’ve heard Barton has a lot of followers who love her writing, this one sounds like a miss for me.

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  2. […] While I enjoyed Barton’s storytelling, her writing and her ability to build some serious suspense I still found myself a bit let down by this novel. As the story progressed and the tension and suspense built up, and the forward progression sped along I found myself enjoying it much more than I had anticipated. I did enjoy this and once it got moving I found it quite compelling, I just wish that it had been a bit more developed and had grabbed me from the start. For Christina’s full review […]

    Like

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