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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

It's a No From Me: A Review of The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Sometimes you speed read a book, and sometimes that book gets more and more disappointing the longer it goes on. I’m sure many of you have already thought of a book that that opening line reminds you of.

I am personally talking about The Suspect by Fiona Barton. The Suspect is the third entry into the Kate Waters series. I didn’t even know this book was part of a series until I finished said book and went to look up its publication date. Straight up, I am not interested in reading the first two books in this series. Perhaps one day I will read them, but I have no plans to read more of this series any time soon.

Book cover of The Suspect by Fiona Barton.

The Suspect follows multiple characters, mainly Kate Waters, who are on a mission to discover the truth of what happened to two teenaged girls, Alex and Rosie, on their trip to Thailand. It’s in Thailand that the characters discover that Alex and Rosie haven’t disappeared, they’ve in fact been murdered. What follows is a mother’s tale of discovering her daughter’s killer, and a mother’s tale of finding her lost son.

A double homicide AND a missing kid?! That gets a double dun-dun-dun.

The synopsis sounds promising, but the story itself is so bland; as are the characters. Going into this, I expected a missing person turned murder investigation. That’s not what I got. Instead, I found myself reading about two young women fighting with each other in a foreign country. More time was spent with Alex yelling at Rosie about Rosie’s behavior before their deaths. The investigation itself feels pushed to the side to make time for Kate to worry about where he son is, and other unnecessary side plots.

I’m not sure if Kate wondering where her son Jake is and what he’s doing is part of an overarching story that I’m missing parts of since I’ve never read this series, but the way it’s presented in this book is horrible. Every time Barton writes from Kate’s point of view, she’s just wondering if her son could lie to her and then convincing herself that Jake could never do that because he’s a good boy. I understood Kate’s beliefs the first time I read them, I did not need to read her questioning if Jake was a good person twenty million times throughout the course of the book.

Miss Piggy banging her head on a table.
I don't care if Kate's grown ass man child lied to her, get on with the murder investigation!

There’s just no plot when it comes to this storyline. Kate just happens to stumble upon clues to where her son is and what he has been doing for years on end. And these clues just so happen to relate to what happened to Alex and Rosie. It doesn’t feel like Kate is trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the girls or where he son is; it just feels like she happens to hear or learn information because she’s in the right place at the right time.

Woman rolling her eyes.
With the way this book goes, I shouldn't have been surprised by this.

I wouldn’t mind if the book was about Kate finding her son had it been marketed as such. As I said, I came into this book expecting to solve Alex and Rosie’s deaths and instead I got whatever Kate is doing. I’m just mad that I was lied to.

Let’s review. Kate is basically useless once she finds out about Jake. Rosie and Alex are irritating because of how much they fight. Alex is painted as the mom friend and hates that she’s expected to take care of Rosie. And Rosie is on a mission to screw every man with a pulse while in Thailand. Jake isn’t the greatest either. Every time he is seen, he’s kinda just there, and he drinks and does drugs so he’s automatically suspicious to the cops. He’s basically the human embodiment of a red herring. So far, it 0-4 when it comes to these characters.

Woman taking a shot and then saying "good job."
Batting a thousand there, Barton.

The only other notable characters Lesley O’Connor Bob Sparkes. Lesley is the mother of Alex, and Bob is the English detective who takes over the murder investigation once the bodies return to England. They don’t offer much to this story either. Lesley is a grieving mother and I don’t have issues with her, but she doesn’t seem to add to the story despite her big stake in the plot. It doesn’t feel like Bob does anything either. He’s also one of the characters that’s kinda just there to add some more emotional drama to the story as his wife is dying. That side story offers nothing to the plot and, again, I am unsure if this is plotline continued from the previous two books.

Woman rolling her eyes.
Again, I shouldn't be surprised.

Honestly, this book offers nothing. I’m glad I never paid for this book, I actually read an old advanced reader copy that I received all the way back in 2018. The mystery and investigation are easy to solve. Jake is an obvious red herring from the minutes he's introduced, and there is only one possibility for who the killer truly is.

My main complaint outside of the boring characters and mystery is the blatant slut shaming that occurs within the pages. Alex and Rosie travel to Thailand for two very different reasons. Alex wants to travel and see the sights and wonders the location has to offer while Rosie just wants to party.

Rosie is the embodiment of “here for a good time, not a long time.” This girl is there to party, and have the time of her life by drinking, doing drugs, and sleeping around. I’d definitely be the first to recommend she lay off the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol she ingests during the short month she’s in Thailand, but she is an adult. These girls are both 18, AKA legal adults, and if Rosie wants to sleep with a handful of men she can.

Barton writes Alex’s character to be a foil to Rosie. In doing so, Alex comes off as someone who acts holier than thou. So what if Rosie wants to have sex, she is an adult and Alex doesn’t need to be in charge of her. People have sex with other people; so what! And from everything that Barton presents, Rosie is having safe, consenting sex with consenting men. There is nothing wrong with Rosie having sex! There are other issues Alex has with Rosie, but a lot of the pair’s issues comes from Rosie having sex with people she barely knows. It left a sour taste in my mouth, and is another reason why I don’t want to read more of this series.

If you’ve made it this far, you have to know what I’m about to say. Pass on this book! It’s not worth it. There are plenty other mysteries and thrillers out there that are much better than this one.

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