Take one of my favourite new authors and two of my absolute favourite narrators, and you have the makings of a great audiobook to dive into this year.
Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow, has remained firmly in my memory since I reviewed it back in 2016. The magnificent Clare Corbett narrated that audiobook and she returns for Barton’s second novel, joined by Adjoa Andoh, Finty Williams, Fenella Woolgar, and one of the best male narrators on the planet, Steven Pacey.
Also returning is reporter Kate Waters who was one of the main characters of The Widow and once again becomes the catalyst, this time uncovering the mystery of a new born baby that vanished from the hospital more than 30 years ago.
The story opens with the discovery of an infant’s remains. Kate latches onto this minor news story and begins investigating, sensing a deeper story. Caught off-guard by the news of the discovery is Angela, the still-grieving mother who lost her child and hopes this will finally give closure; Emma, a married woman with a mystery of her own that seems oddly affected by the discovery of the unidentified infant; and Emma’s mother, Jude, a cold, dismissive presence in her life.
The way these three women are connected to each other is the primary mystery, along with the identity of the body. Kate powers through her investigation, attempting to show compassion but always motivated by getting the story. Along the way, she finds herself lumbered with training up a new intern who may or may not show the potential she needs.
With a cast of five excellent readers, this audiobook bounces along nicely from multiple perspectives. It’s full of intrigue and emotion, with some interesting glimpses into journalism and medical research.
To date, any audiobook with Clare Corbett or Stephen Pacey’s name attached has been well worth the listen, and while the latter only appears briefly in The Child, his involvement is still a recommendation in itself.
The Child is a stand-alone story despite having the character of Kate carry through both of Barton’s novels. For lovers of mysteries, family dramas and superb narration, you can’t go wrong.
The audiobook of The Child was released by Audible Studios in June 2017 and runs for just under 11 hours. It is available through Audible Australia.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9