by Fiona Barton
If you moved in next door to Glen and Jeannie Taylor, you might have felt lucky. Quiet, pleasant, long-time residents who keep their place up and mind their own business, they seem to be perfect neighbors.
But the Taylors have secrets – dark ones – that they hide from the world, from each other and ultimately from themselves. Until, that is, a police investigation rips apart every nook and cranny of their lives, exposing the secrets one after another.
Barton’s ingeniously presented story focuses on a 2006 kidnapping of two-year-old Bella Elliott from her yard where she was playing with a cat. She is never seen again and no body is found. The police arrest Glen Taylor for the crime, but the case is thrown out of court on a technicality in 2008. He in turn sues the police and is awarded a handsome settlement.
The story opens four years after the kidnapping and a week after Glen Taylor is killed by a bus outside a Sainsbury’s. The accident rekindles interest in Bella Elliott’s kidnapping and the lack of a suspect, trial and punishment of the perpetrator.
A sleazy reporter for the Daily Post, Kate Waters, attempts to buy Jean Taylor’s exclusive story. Jean has had a lot of practice keeping secrets and has no intention of telling-all. The original investigator of the kidnapping, Detective Inspector (DI) Bob Sparkes, can’t let go of his conviction that Glen Taylor is Bella’s kidnapper and probably murderer. Bella’s mother, Dawn Elliott, has never stopped calling for justice.
The story alternates back and forth in time and between the perspectives of Jean Taylor, Kate Waters, DI Sparkes and Dawn Elliott.
Barton turns the conventions of the mystery genre on edge. She convinces you that Glen Taylor has to be the guilty party. Yet even as information builds, so do the questions: Was Taylor wrongfully accused? How much did Jean Taylor know – and when did she know it? Was she an accomplice?
Barton’s tale continually surprises. Her characters are three-dimensional and unpredictable. You will be surprised to the last page.
It was listed among Notable Selections in an article on Crimereads.com on the 10 best crime novels of the last decade.
About the Author: Fiona Barton
A former journalist, Fiona Barton discovered the seeds of The Widow when she was covering notorious crimes and trials. She began to wonder what the wives of the accused really knew – and what they hid from themselves.
Over the course of her career, Barton has been a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards. She gave up her job to volunteer in Sri Lanka. Since 2008, she has trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists around the world.
Her second novel, The Child, was published in June 2017.