“But I know now that protecting our children changes who we are. Who we seem to be.”
They only want their children back. Lesley and Malcom O’Connor did not hear from their 18-year-old daughter “Alex” Alexandra, 18, to ask about the results from her A-levels. She is on a long-coveted trip through Thailand with pal Rosie Shaw. Rosie’s divorced and estranged parents Jenny and Mike have not heard from their daughter either.
Kate Waters is the journalist who covers the story for the Daily Post. She is keen to head out to Bangkok, as it is only a short flight away from Phuket, where her own grown-up son Jake got stuck. She tries to pull strings to get information from the police, but DI Bob Sparkes, whom she knows from previous cases, will soon have to fight his own case.
The story is set in 2014 and told from ever-changing points of view, Kate, young Alex, cop Bob etc. The parts are normally introduced by their role to the plot that follows, e.g. “The Reporter” or “The Mother”, which is tiny bit confusing in the very beginning. The same way, the information unfolds slowly, like “I” will then turn out to be Kate, who will then be identified as working with the Daily Post, and so on. It is not being done in that authors’ way to keep the reader in the dark, just in relation to the different roles a person is in; so, I rather liked this. Also, there are changes in the timeline from “now” within the search to “then” when the girls started off – quite nicely about to meet where it all happened. I still doubt the majority of thriller readers would take it for a thriller (not very gory, rather unfolding slowly with a sense of foreboding, lots of time spent on insight with people) – psychological thriller, maybe, rather. I do not much care for thinking within the box…so, no problem with me.
I liked the style of writing, the general idea for the plot, the main characters, and the twists. I especially enjoyed the questions the reader is left with. But I found some choices the author made were the easy way out: Rosie is that dumb and useless, I would have ditched her in Alex’ place. I cannot understand why she did not, to be honest, even if that would have probably limited her trip to Bangkok only. I did not miss Rosie or feel sorry for her – it might have been a nice idea to see the story from her point of view, like how her mom pushed her, how Alex is boring, how there are too many temples,… It would have changed how (not) feeling sorry for her might have influenced the readers’ moral interpretation.
Oh, the book is the third featuring Kate Waters and DI Bob Sparkles – I only realized after I had finished the book. It is not necessary to have read the others first – though there may have been some hint of something having happened in between Kate and Bob? Or almost? Not important, really. A very good four stars.
Kate Waters and doctor-husband Steve
their sons Jake and Freddie
DI Bob Sparkes, his wife Eileen,
grown-up children, daughter Sam and son Jim
DS Zara Salmond. Bob and Zara both are with Hampshire Police
Lesley and Malcolm O’Connor
Daughter Alexandra, son Dan. Winchester.
Jenny Shaw. Divorced from
Mike Shaw, newly wed to Imogen, and with a new baby.
Mike and Jenny have daughter Rosie
Wendy Turner. Family liaison officer
Mags. Alex’ best friend.
Joe Jackson. Kate Waters’ young colleague.
News editor Terry, their boss.
Editor Simon Pearson
photographer Mick Murray
Mama. Runs hotel in Bangkok.
The Widow is #1
The Child is #2 – in case anybody wants to read in order.