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416 pages, Hardcover
First published January 22, 2019
No one wants to hear that their child has a dark side. Especially when she’s dead.Well, or thought to be. It is every parent’s nightmare. Eighteen-year-old Alexandra O’Connor (Alex) and Rosie Shaw have been out of touch for a week, and Alex’s parents are alarmed. Her A-level results are in, a source of great interest, and stress. She had promised to call and this was not something she would have willingly put off. Not necessarily a huge big deal if dear daughter were closer to home, but Alex and Rosie had been backpacking in Thailand and the margin between fear and action narrows in inverse proportion to the number of miles separating parent and child. I can relate, having a son who worked in China for a spell, and a daughter who went to school in France for a semester.
What Kate Waters gives me is the freedom to go in any direction – a freedom I loved when I was a reporter. One week I’d be interviewing a rescued sailor in Australia, the next, talking to the Mother of Martyrs in Gaza or in a Glasgow flat with a man accused of online child abuse. While police officers are drowning in a sea of forms in triplicate, she can pick up her notebook and go. - from WHSmith blog interviewIt is Kate who gets most of the ink here, the third novel in which she has been featured. (after The Widow in 2016 and The Child in 2017) That is probably because writing about a reporter is something to which Barton brings decades of personal experience. She was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph and, as chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, she received the Press Association’s 2002 Reporter of the Year award. Among other benefits, being a journalist offered her many opportunities to study body language and speech patterns at the many criminal trials she covered.
the interview is her primary narrative tool, the scalpel that gets words, both spoken and thought, emerging from her characters. - from Hazlit interviewWe follow the events in chronological order, alternating perspectives among The Reporter, Kate, The Detective, Bob, and The Mother, Lesley, Alex’s mom. There is a fourth look as well, a third person omniscient chronology of the actual events in Thailand. The timeline for the last begins earlier than the other three views and overlaps with those, but is also a straight chronology.
…as I grew and started reading books from my parents’ bookshelves, I discovered the thrill of finding out other people’s private thoughts and actions. It began with detective stories—Sherlock Holmes and his powers of deduction, and the shoals of red herrings in Agatha Christie’s novels. The “ta da!” of a heavily concealed denouement.The hush-hush is not limited to the victims’ parents. This is a particularly strong element, one that offers considerable oomph on top of the satisfaction of a this-then-that-to-resolution story-telling, a willingness to look at how good people can sometimes overlook bad behavior, in inverse proportion to the closeness of the sinner. There is also a powerful look at what it is like both dealing with the press and being among the reporter scrum howling outside your door. A look at the frenemy clot of reporters vying for ways in to a story they have all been assigned is both dark and delightful. Colleagues or competitors? Add to that a look at some elements of life in Thailand that may push it down your bucket list a few rungs.
But it was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca that stopped me in my tracks. From the hypnotic first line—“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”—I was drawn deep into this tragic love story and its gothic horror. I was no longer the observer of amateur detectives’ cleverness; I lived every moment of the tense, unsettling, and compelling narrative and was caught in the fabric of lies and silence that surrounded the real story. I was hooked. It was the first time I had been faced with the revelation that we can never really know anyone completely—even, or perhaps especially, those we love. - from the PW article