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… (Per Goodreads)
Somehow this author’s previous bestseller The Widow had passed me by, so this was my first introduction to this author. On this reading I’ll definitely be going back and playing catch up. I loved this book, it has a fascinating and engaging plotline, with intriguing characters and at its heart a mystery whose hopeful resolution keeps you reading.
At the centre of the mystery is the identity of ‘the child’ whose skeletal remains have been discovered by workers excavating a building site. The complication arises when two women believe that the child is theirs. Only one can be the real mother, so how does this situation resolve itself and while one mother can prove her child was taken, the other is decidedly unreliable. But as the plot unfolds, it’s clear that a much murkier and darker story is being uncovered that has repercussions for many people linked to the area where the body was discovered.
The story is told from multiple viewpoints via Angela whose baby was taken from the hospital shortly after birth; via Emma whose troubled relationship with her mother and mental health issues might lead us to question her claim that the baby is hers; and via Kate, the reporter following the case who draws the strands together and uncovers deeper misdeeds along the way.
What I liked about the book was the way the story was presented. By having the story covered by a reporter, rather than purely following a police cold case, it gave us all the joys of the police procedural combined with a much more personal and in-depth investigation of the characters and the background. Kate herself is also a feisty and interesting character in her own right, which also adds another dimension. This is very much a character driven story, that reveals the people behind the headline in what started out as a simple human interest story. The resulting revelations however are far from simple, though I would argue this book is not the ‘thriller’ it portrays itself as, though still a gripping and compelling a read, for me it was more of a mystery. But definitely a highly recommended one.
I received a proof copy via the publisher for my honest review.