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The Suspect

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Member Reviews

The threads that make up this mystery don’t really start to get particularly interesting until about halfway into this novel.

We’ve met reporter Kate in the first two books of this series. She’s the only character who tells her story in first person, letting us know that her oldest son dropped out of school two years ago and has barely kept in touch with his family since, obviously leaving Kate, her husband, and her younger son to worry. So Kate throws herself into work. It’s August, and everyone is on holiday, so the newspaper she writes for is desperate for any story that might sell papers. When two eighteen-year-old girls disappear in Thailand, it’s as good a story as any, even though the Thai police and the British police try to assure the girls’ parents that they almost always show up.

Another point of view is of the mother of one of the girls who is missing. Another POV is before the disappearance from Alex, one of the now-missing girls, and is told via her Facebook posts and her private emails to her best friend back home.

This is a decent mystery, but if you are looking for a breathless page-turner, this isn’t it.

Thanks so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel.

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While about 1/2 in, the story really picked up and hooked was a little slow to get going. Several times I thought about setting it aside but since it was a preview, I felt I needed to stick with it. Then, finally it started picking up. Best news is that it ended with loads of twists and turns.

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Two British girls are reported missing. On holiday in Thailand, the girls had kept in touch with their parents. That is, until a week ago. Kate Waters, a dedicated reporter, covers the seemingly easy story which turns out to be anything but ordinary. Kate quickly befriends the parents and joins them, along with DI Sparkes, to discover what has happened to the girls. Oddly, they all have their own motives for going, which makes things a bit messy. The question is, are any of them ready to face the truth?

The disappearance, the awkward relationships, and the fact that absolutely no one has seen the girls had my attention from the beginning. I loved the fact that the more information they gained, the stranger the situation became. The fast pace of events kept my curiousity up and my nose in the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much sleep until I had finished it. I suppose that’s good insight for those who can’t put down a good book!

Fans of Fiona Barton will enjoy the continuation in the lives of characters Kate Waters and DI Sparkes in her third novel. Both are put face to face with their biggest fears, testing their limits.

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So, do you remember the movie "Brokedown Palace" with Claire Danes? I saw it once, years ago, and it terrified me. It made me never want to travel to Thailand. This book reaffirms that decision.

Okay, maybe it's not that serious. Thai jail is no joke, and staying in a hostel sounds like the absolute worst. I also think its much more an aspect of British culture to travel to Thailand for holiday. Here in the US, we just head to the beaches of Florida or Mexico.

Anyway, I digress.

I LOVED this book. Supsenseful from the jump. Two girls go to Thailand after High School, things don't go as planned, their family has to cope halfway around the world.

The two girls end up staying at a ramshackle "hostel" with a sketchy looking crew. Alex, the more mature of the two can't wait to move on, but is scared to leave without her traveling companion. Not the person she wanted to travel with anyway. (This reminded me of the time I was in Europe with American Music Abroad and roomed with Martha. She would sneak out, drink, bring boys back, etc. I was a soon to be Junior in high school and superemly uncomfortable the entire I idenfied with Alex).

After a tragedy, the story revolves between the girls parents, the detective in England, and the Reporter who lands the story. (The same reporter of Barton's earlier books). Through a twist, there is a surprising connection between the people working this case. It threw me for a loop. And then with about 50 pages left there is a whole other twist that made me gasp out loud whilst I read at me desk at work (shhhhhhhh!).

Super great read, I can't wait for more of her work!

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Two 18-year old girls, Alex and Rosie, go missing while on holiday in Thailand. After their parents notify police, reporter Kate Waters jumps at the chance to cover the story. This time, however, the tables have turned on Kate. She discovers that her son who’s been living in Thailand may somehow be involved. What happens when her own family is thrust in the spotlight?

The story is told in short chapters and alternating POVs – the reporter, the detective, the mother, and one of the missing girls. The opening grabbed my attention, though I had a harder time staying engaged with this book versus the first two in the series. At about the 30% mark, the major twist (IMO) was revealed. I thought, huh. Now what’s going to happen for another 300 pages? The middle moved by slowly, but things picked up closer to the end.

I very much enjoyed The Widow and The Child, but something was a bit off about this one. The premise was intriguing, but the execution didn’t grab me, and I never warmed to the characters unfortunately!

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When two young women go missing on their gap year adventure in Thailand, their frantic parents are wooed by a reporter, eager to get the story, whose son has also gone off the grid. A fast, suspenseful read that underscores how terrifying parenthood can be after one's children have stuck out into the world on their own.

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I liked the telling of this story from multiple points of view. And I also enjoyed that each point of view's story was written so realistically. The mystery wasn't a huge one to figure out but there are some nice twists.

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While I quite liked Barton's other books, this one fell short of my expectations. I was excited by the premise (two teens go missing while traveling in Thailand), but the execution was lacking. It's slow-building and I had already guessed the "twist" at the end halfway through the book.

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The Suspect is the third book in the Fiona Barton series, Kate Waters. I read her previous novel in the series, The Child, and enjoyed it. This novel is a mystery, which begins with two friends who go on a trip to Thailand and disappear. Kate Waters, who is a news reporter, picks up the story. Written from the POV of numerous characters which I thought would be confusing but it was pretty easy to follow along. I found the story enjoyable but too long. It started and ended with a bang, but I was pretty bored in the middle. Kate Waters was also less likable to me in this story. I enjoyed her character in The Child. I will definitely read any forthcoming novels by this author but found this one to be just mediocre (3 out of 5 ).

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Thank you for letting me read and review this book.

i really loved the storyline and that it was a page turner. This was my first Fiona Barton book and it won't be my last. I am looking forward reading her backlist titles. This is the perfect beach read.

I am going to an in depth review of this book in What to Read Next Blog this month.

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My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A smart, and at times, unnerving mystery with complex characters and a situation which will make you rethink your travel plans.

THE SUSPECT is a dark and multilayered story that is equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. It is also the third book where journalist Kate Waters makes her appearance on an investigation. However, this time around she is faced with the fact her son may be the reason two girls are dead.

With the usual effortless flow to her writing, Barton gave me a smart, timely, and twisted mystery surrounding a suspicious fire and two murders. What I like about the book were the multiple perspectives. This allowed the reader to not only have different vantage points to the crime, but it brought into play the humanity of all the characters. While I was reading, these glimpses into the minds of the various players broke up the investigation. In addition, it let me check in with characters from previous stories I had remembered.

All in all, THE SUSPECT was an addictive investigation with some surprising revelations as well as characters to invest in. The book is so good because it could actually happen. The reality behind the story is much more frightening to me. I cannot wait to see what Kate tackles next.

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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 (read my review here).  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

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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4 1/2 Addictive Stars!

Every parent's worst nightmare! Except one of the parents is the lead reporter on the case. LOVED this story!! And the multiple narrators were fantastic. Don't miss this one.

Two girls travel to Thailand for their Gap Year but suddenly go missing. Their frantic parents in England get no real help from the authorities in Thailand so they turn to the press for assistance. It turns out that Alex, the more sensible of the pair, didn't really know her traveling companion Rosie all that well and their trip to Thailand ends up taking all the wrong turns.

Their families turn to Kate Waters, a reporter who is eager to tell their story. But Kate is actually harboring her own painful secret: her son Jake dropped out of university several years before and basically disappeared in Thailand. Her smart, sweet and nerdy son has not been in touch with his family and Kate and her husband fear for his safety.

Kate soon becomes enmeshed in the lives of the missing girls' families and becomes the center of even more drama: she is taken off the story due to her own son's possible involvement in Alex and Rosie's disappearance. 'The Suspect' is an intensely compelling story with many twist and turns which end in a stunning conclusion.

Each family's story is told from alternating points of view that are at once gripping, thrilling and compelling. Does any parent ever really know their own children? The mystery of what happened to Alex and Rosie slowly unfolds in a completely surprising and terrifying way. As a parent, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next chapter. As a reader, I could not wait until Kate and British investigator Bob Sparks got to the bottom of the girls' disappearance.

The exotic locales are described in all their colorful glory but the author doesn't hesitate write about the dark side of Thailand. Gap year travel may be exciting but the dangers of travel abroad are laid out in painful detail here. The author also explores the sometimes tragic role of social media in our lives.

This book starts off rather gently and then the last part of the story virtually rockets to a shocking conclusion. Although this is the third book featuring Kate Waters, it absolutely can be read as a standalone. I highly recommend the audiobook, however, with the multiple narrators perfectly voicing the different points of view. Although I received an advanced review copy of this book, I downloaded the audiobook and absolutely loved it.

Thrilling and addictive, 'The Suspect' will stay with me for a long time. Another wonderful mystery from Fiona Barton!

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I have been a huge fan of Fiona Barton’s previous titles, The Widow and The Child. This book was nothing short of exactly what I’ve come to expect from her, spectacular! When a bored detective comes across a case of two missing English students in Thailand she takes the case is a way to fill some news. What she didn’t expect was how big this case would become in the search to find the girls. It’s an excellent story and per Barton’s usual, full of twists!

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When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry. Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think ...

I loved the way the author weaved in details of her past books into this one! I like that Kate and Bob were in this story, but I would have liked to know MORE about them and their story, if that makes sense! While I was able to predict a lot of what was happening, I loved the story and the details that this story had! I just wish things had been revealed a bit slower and not so early on in the book.

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Author, Fiona Barton, seems to have a rather large cult following on social media. Her books (especially this new one) have been all over my Instagram page and I have to admit, I was intrigued by the prospect of being able to fan girl a new-to-me author.

As I have said before, I am new to the thriller genre and often become intimidated by starting new series mid way through, however in recent years I have had fairly good luck with starting mid series.

I had seen that this book can be read as a stand alone, even though it is part of the Kate Waters series.


When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think (summary from Goodreads).


I would absolutely agree that this book could be read as a stand alone book. I had my reservations when I started it, but ultimately I felt that the author orientated the audience in the ‘world’ and it’s characters. I didn’t feel lost at all.

This book addresses every parents worst nightmare…..a missing child. Even though the missing girls are teens, I think any parent would have heightened anxiety when reading this book. I myself have a two year old son, and just reading this book made me extra nervous about kidnapping. Not in a way that made me not want to read this book, but in a way that made the book more personal and made me invest in it in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

The author’s writing is smooth and also practiced. It is evident that the author writes thrillers with a daft hand. I felt like the transitions in the book and the story itself fit well together and flow nicely. It is clear to see why this author has so many dedicated fans.

I noticed that some reviewers felt that this book fell flat when compared to the other books in the series. For me, I have no reference so I cannot say if this book was less thrilling than the others. In my opinion it was a fun read with some twists and turns that kept me interested and reading at a steady pace.

The only thing that I had a hard time with was the main character herself. Maybe in other books, Kate is more likable. But for me in this book, I just didn’t connect to her in the way that I had hoped. The story itself was a delight to read but the main character just wasn’t my favorite.

Book Info and Rating

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published January 10th 2019 by Transworld Digital
Free review copy provided by Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Thriller, mystery

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Wow wow wow! This book is a thriller for the ages. The beginning eased you flawlessly into the story, and I was sucked in the entire time I read it. Kate Waters is a fantastic main character, and the depth to which Barton goes for her stories is incredible!

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A parent's worst nightmare becomes true when two girls traveling in Thailand disappear and then are found dead following a suspicious fire. Kate Waters , a journalist, is covering the story when she finds that her own "out of communication " son was entangled in these girls lives. Kate continues to cover the story even when she is placed on minimum duties at the paper. Everyone wants to talk to her son but the only clue of his whereabouts is a speeding ticket indicating that he has returned home. What's his story and how to unravel this mystery of things that are not as they seem.

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4.5 I devoured Fiona Barton's debut novel, The Widow. And her second book, The Child. And her just released third book, The Suspect? Yup, couldn't put it down as well!

Kate Waters is the reporter who investigated the crimes in the first two books. She's on the case again in The Suspect. (But each book can be read as a stand alone.) Like hundreds of other young people, Alex and Rosie decide to take a gap year trip to Thailand. One of them is quite dutiful in keeping in touch with her parents. When that communication stops, her parents immediately contact authorities. The bulletin crosses over Kate's desk and she sees a story. And it makes her think about her own son, Jake. He left to travel two years ago. She hasn't seen him since and his communiques are sketchy.

I was happy to see Kate return in this latest. She's clever, dogged and determined to get the story. This time, the story may have found her.... Kate is not above manipulation, but does have a conscience. We get to know Kate a bit better in this latest offering. Barton herself has a rich background as a journalist. Her plots and descriptions benefit greatly from this experience.

The Suspect is told from four points of view. E-mails from Alex slowly detail what is going on in Thailand. (These were so hard to read). From Kate in chapters headed The Reporter, from The Detective on the case, and from Alex's mom in The Mother. The depiction of the parents' angst was gut wrenching. Barton also explores the impact this crisis has on the marriages of the parents and the relationships between child and parent.

As a reader, we are privy to what's going on across the board. Barton deliciously ekes out the story - each new chapter reveals a little more. Cutting back and forth between characters only serves to heighten the tension and draw the reader in further. The 'whodunit' vacillates between a few choices, but as the book progressed, I had my suspect nailed down. Barton throws in a nice little twist at the end - one that was presented to the reader earlier on. that I didn't catch.

I quite enjoyed The Suspect and am looking forward to Barton's next book - and hopefully Kate's next story.

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The Suspect is nicely done suspense, if at times a tad predictable, but that may just be the result of reading several titles by this author and having an idea how her stories evolve.

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