The Suspect: Fiona Barton
Touring a foreign country was supposed to be an exciting time of her life for three months before going back and learning the results of her exams and starting the next phase of her life. All excited and pumped thinking her best friend Mags was going to go along with her, little did Alex O’Connor know that she would decline the trip and might have to forgo it all. Rosie Shaw committed to go along with her but how well does she know her and as the author shares the many different viewpoints presented in this complex/psychological/ mystery thriller, we learn a lot about the read Rosie, the fact that there was some hidden reasons that she wanted to go on this three month trip and the final fate of these two girls.
How well do you really know anyone as the story begins, the girls are in Thailand but the flashbacks to Alex’s emails to her friend Mags reveal a side of Rosie, the environment they were staying, , the drugs and alcohol readily available as they trudged their way from the moment they were in Bangkok to a place called Mama’s Paradise, a hostel that was filled with wild parties, drug ridden young men and where Alex hoped she would finally escape when their week was up but the end result you will learn from so many was more than tragic. The story continues as the parents of Alex and Rosie become alerted to the fact that they did not call to find out the results of their A Level exam and they failed to post on the predetermined days and times on Facebook. Danny her brother set up the page, but the posts never came the only voices we hear are Alex’s and her emails to Mags telling her of the nightmare she was enduring having Rosie with her as a roommate and not a friend.
Kate Waters hears about the two missing girls and although she’s a reporter and learns that the police think they will turn up, after hearing that they are missing she connects with Lesley and Malcolm O’Connor and here is where things get more complicated. Meeting with the parents she gets a sense that they are concerned more than the police that something happened to Alex. Dealing with her boss Terry and her editor Simon she gets some resistance but, in the end, she tells the story in her own way honestly and straightforward but first she also meets Jenny Shaw and learns about her discord with her ex-husband Mike who appears cold and unemotional. Who exactly gave Rosie the money for the trip? Why did she lie and say it came from her father when you learn it might have come from someone else or did, she take it on her own from this person? This turns from bad to horrific when Kate reminds herself that her son, Jake has not enlisted in any form of communication with her and her husband Steve, until the unthinkable happens and the plot becomes dark. With Joe a new reporter helping to gather information about the girls, Bob Sparkes the detective who is dealing with his terminal wife, we hear his voice expressing how he feels the case is going and hoping to connect with Kate at some time. He proves to be a good friend and when things get more difficult for her and she has no choice but to go to Thailand, what she learns and what we learn about the girls will give you chills.
Alex reveals things about Rosie that her parents will never or would ever fathom about her or believe. Rosie turned into some type of alcohol/drug ridden party girl and even went as far as demanding that she gets a tattoo and screamed the entire time. Alex at times became her nursemaid and often had to bring her to bed and take care of her even though she seemed to want to indulge repeatedly and the young men they met were anything but reputable and this hostel had a patron that was murdered and Jake, Kate’s son was working there at the time and disappeared and is still missing from the hospital and does not want to contact or connect with this parents.
There are many issues that are relevant within this novel and that parents, teens, educators, police officials, hospitals and young adults need to focus on when deciding to travel to another country. As the author flashes back to Alex and Rosie we begin to learn about their failing relationship, the young men Rosie got involved with, taking money from Alex’s bag without permission and the dangerous games they were playing with alcohol and much more. Jake was there and both girls seemed to be after him and he admitted to Alex why he would not contact his parents as in they are dealing with his disappearance, the death of both girls who are now being autopsied, the hidden truths behind their deaths still a mystery yet the cause of both girl’s deaths appears to be different but who killed them and why? What was someone to gain from killing them?
Kate finds herself the brunt of office politics and feeling like a pariah as she is being given stories that have no real substance to write and the cold shoulder from her colleagues as everyone wants to know, including the police where her son might be hiding out and if she has heard from him. The result has yet to be revealed as both Rosie and Alex’s parents are distraught and just want answers, but it does not look like that is going to happen any time soon with the backlog in the lab. Added in Stokes must deal with his wife’s terminal illness putting even more strain on him.
When the emails that Alex sent to her friend Mags become public knowledge, both sets of parents handle the information in different ways. Will Jenny believe what Alex wrote about Rosie? Was she really taking drugs and what was their relationship with Jake Waters, Kate’s son who seems to be at the center of the investigation and the preliminary result of the autopsies is that both girls were strangled and dead when the fire broke out? Someone killed them and set the fire to cover up the murders but why? Kate is dealing with the fact that Jake is being sought by the police and everyone thinks he has a link to the deaths of the girls as we learn from the emails.
As the case progresses and the police in Bangkok and London deal with the murders of both girl’s evidence plays out that Mama knows more than she is letting on and when they finally learn where Jake has been the evidence points to him but did, he commit the murders or was it someone else?
As you hear Alex’s voice and understand her plight you begin to realize that she was irrational at times, had no idea of how to handle difficult situations and she and Rosie had a serious falling out and then Rosie was found and what happened to her remained a mystery as no one revealed how she died. Alex winds up in a difficult situation and someone wants her silenced. Was it an accident? Was it because this person could not find his way and needed someone to accept him for who and what he was? When the final reveal takes place and Kate comes face to face with her son, Jake what we learn will shock readers. What she decides to do will make you wonder about how far a mother will go to protect her son and allow him a second chance in life? As you hear the final words, learn what the police have heard and decided to do you the reader will determine the identity or identities of the SUSPECT? Who is guilty? A story that all young people can learn from when going to a foreign country and being taken in by young men who are looking for a good time. Finding places to stay that are unsavory and dealing with someone like Mama who is corrupt and dangerous as parents must warn their teens and young adults to always be aware of drinking partners, never take a drink from someone else. Never leave your drink unintended if you do get another one. Never leave your personal possessions unlocked and always carry your money and passport with you. Lies, betrayals, deceptions and two young girls caught up in their own priorities and someone out to prove that murder can happen, and answers might never be perfectly revealed as Kate Waters has to decide live with her choices but where will they take her next? Author Fiona Barton takes us inside the minds of young teens and their reasons for leaving home and wanting to have some fun but as whose expense besides their own? Powerful ending, with surprises, twists and questions that the reader will be left wondering. Who is guilty? What will Kate’s future be as a reporter? What about her friendship with Bob and now that Eileen is gone where will he go and look next? This story leaves room for more to come. But, what will each one face next?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/my magazine, MJ network
No comments yet.