Rating: 2.5 STARS
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?
As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.
But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…
Initially, I was super excited to have this book! I never thought I’d win it through First to Read because I barely win anything, so I was shocked to win this, especially since I adored Barton’s The Widow. Unfortunately, this one didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.
We follow Kate, the reporter from The Widow, as she investigates the story of a dead baby found near a construction site. Three other women also end up getting involved in this case: Emma, who has experienced a rough childhood, but quickly becomes effected because of the news of the dead baby; Jude, Emma’s mother who has a different side of the story; and Angela, who lost a baby long ago and wonders if she’s finally found her. I loved seeing how all four of these women interconnected with the mystery; it made the book truly interesting. We get to experience all of their POVs, and it always kept me guessing what truly happened. I ended up being proved wrong at one point, which reminds me why I love thrillers so much.
I think one of my issues with this book was the pacing. This book was quite slow, and I’d say it’s about the same pace of The Widow. It isn’t a fast-moving thriller at any rate, and I’d probably call it more of a mystery than anything. Though I really enjoyed the pacing in The Widow, the pacing in this book really ruined the experience for me, especially since it took me so damn long to read this one. I started getting bored and just wanting to finish it for the sake of finishing it.
I also thought this was more mystery than thriller. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s a sort of contemporary/mystery mix – you know, one of those mysteries that’s not really too dark and tends to be a bit tragic and the mystery isn’t really the main point of the novel? I will say, for those who complained about there not being a plot twist in her previous novel, they’ll probably enjoy this one much more, since there’s a couple, but I didn’t really enjoy them too much.
I thought the ending of this one was actually pretty nice. It was quite bittersweet for the tone of the novel, and I thought it tied up everything really nicely in the end, which is always good for a stand-alone. I loved seeing the characters get their own little happy ending, in their own way.
Overall, not as good as The Widow, but other people will probably enjoy this one more than I did (and already have!).
Thanks so much to the Penguin First to Read program for giving me this e-ARC! I truly appreciate it.
I thought a good topic for this one is talking about hit or miss authors. You know, those authors who have some books you enjoy, but also have some books you don’t enjoy, and some books just feel meh about. For me, I think the biggest culprit of this is Lauren Oliver.
I’m sure you guys know my never-ending love for Before I Fall, which is her debut novel. It was the first book of hers I read fully (I’d DNF-ed Delirium), and I still consider it one of my favorites, and probably the only book of hers I’ve liked so far. I found Delirium really boring and never managed to finish it or conjure the energy to re-read it. I bought Panic on a whim, and also read a good couple of chapters before I gave up on it as well. I recently read Replica, and, again, I found myself not really enjoying it and getting bored of reading the same scene from different POVs. The only unread novel I have of hers left is Vanishing Girls, which is a thriller, and I’m praying that it’s good, but it’s crazy to think that the only book of hers I liked was her first one.
Another author I can think of is Leigh Bardugo. I read Shadow and Bone because of the hype and wasn’t too impressed with it. I initially intended to read the sequel, but the more time passed and the more people raved about Six of Crows, I decided to just opt out of reading the Grisha trilogy, and instead just went with Six of Crows. It was a five-star read and absolutely freaking brilliant and so much better than Shadow and Bone. I wouldn’t consider her one of my favorite authors yet, but we’ll see once I read Wonder Woman: Warbringer.
I’ve realized for thriller authors, I’m quicker to forgive, though. For instance, I didn’t like or thought Shari Lapena’s, Paula Hawkin’s, and Ruth Ware’s books were as good as everyone said they were. Yet, for all three authors, I’ve put their 2017 releases on my most anticipated releases list, and I can’t wait for them to come out. I guess it’s just the fact that I’m weak for a good thriller premise, and, who knows, maybe their next book will be a total hit for me (though I don’t know if this has actually happened for real).
I feel like I judge YA books more by their authors, where there are times where I’ll not read a book because I didn’t like the author’s previous books, but for thrillers, I’m just like, “Meh. The premise sounded awesome; I’ll go for it.” Really, I guess it all depends on the type of bookworm we are.
What are your thoughts on Fiona Barton? What are some hit-or-miss authors for you? Are you affected by genres/age ranges for authors like I am?