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Publisher's Summary

The author of the stunning New York Times best seller The Widow returns with a brand-new novel of twisting psychological suspense.

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it's a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn - house by house - into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women - and torn between what she can and cannot tell.

©2017 Fiona Barton (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pacing Problems


Had this not been so highly recommended by a friend, I don't think I could have pushed on to finish this book because of the painstakingly slow progress and the straight recounting style the author, a former journalist herself, uses to tell this story. Usually, I appreciate a *show-don't-tell* type of read, feeling engaged in the process of fleshing out a novel. Too often Barton seemed to dawdle on the details in her procedural, until what were supposed to be interesting pieces of a puzzle felt like belabored points.

This is a book that is probably best as a companion for a couple of days, one to listen to a little while, set down at night, and pick up at your leisure. A good book for occupying time, because it's not a bad book, it's just not a book that holds you by the throat or one that is written with beautiful prose you might scribble down in a journal. Myself, by the end of what felt like a long slog, I felt too worn down to even care about the heart-rending journey I'd just listened to.

About the narration: Barton does very well including multiple points of view through her characters. The cast does a good job in most cases with their narration but I felt the total presentation lacked consistency. Some of the transitions between characters were confusing.

28 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Julie
  • Chicagoland Area
  • 08-17-17

Avid mystery story listener loved this audio book!

This is now one of my top rated listens! Great narration, interesting story and characters. Really nicely done!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Denys
  • Cary, NC, USA
  • 07-18-17

Lost in Narration

Any additional comments?

It's a good story. I did confuse the characters as the narrator's voices were not distinct and the name Anna is not that much different from Emma. As noted by previous reviewers, I too was bored by the endless ruminating and internal dialogue.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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tears

Well I knew what the ending was going to be by chapter 50.. But the ending chapters were great!!! The tears we're flowing!!!!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Listen to this if you enjoyed "The Widow"

This is a bit of a slow starter, with several shifting POVs that require attention to keep the characters separate. It helps that there are multiple narrators. Unfortunately, the voices were not particularly engaging. The outcome of the disparate plot lines was apparent to me at about the 2/3 point, but it was rewarding to have everything nicely concluded with an emotional ending. If you liked this author's previous book, " The Widow", this is similar in style.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Tedious

The storyline is very labored. Coupled with strange narration this made for a very boring audiobook experience. Not interesting enough to continue listening.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great mystery enhanced by narration

A nicely crafted and satisfying mystery. Barton uses four main narrative threads with four different point of view characters: Kate, a middle-aged reporter; Angela, a 60-something woman who has lasting grief rooted in the snatching of her newborn from a hospital decades earlier; Emma, a 40-something book editor with lasting emotional issues from a rocky childhood; and Jude, Emma's mother. The narrators are all excellent, with the one caveat that the woman portraying Kate's chapters talks very slowly (but this is easily remedied by putting her on 1.25 speed). The one chapter narrated from a male character's perspective feels a bit odd, though, as it is only a one-off.

These four women, their secrets and scars and needs, are brought to the surface and intensified when the remains of a baby are found on a building site. The titular child at first appears to be the missing Alice, Angela's stolen baby. But as the book progresses, other possibilities arise and the plot becomes more complex and the psychological tolls each of these women has suffered becomes evermore taut and harrowing.

The true protagonist of the book is Kate. In her role as reporter, she is the one that becomes interested in the baby that is found on Howard Street. It is clear immediately that the body is decades old, so it is Kate's own personal drive to make this into a story (and escape the mundane and crass celebrity stories she is inundated with) that propels the press coverage forward and, in turn, contributes to the investigation. More importantly, her doggedness not only helps to reveal the truth, but also gives each of the other women some form of release, empowerment, closure, or justice. In the end, there is a well-constructed twist and resolution (though I thought Kate was a bit slow on the uptake in grasping exactly what was going on), that manages to be gasp-worthy but not so improbable to destroy the grounded nature of the book. And it is the three-dimensional depiction of the four women, of their grief and anger and uncertainty, that makes this more than a run of the mill mystery. Barton gets full marks for well-realized characters and an exciting conclusion that avoided jumping any sharks. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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You'll need patience

It's slow at first, but if you stick it out to be end, it's definitely worth the wait

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very depressing storyline

I love this author! However I was not too impressed with this book! I think it was beautifully written and great narration but the story was slow and was pretty depressing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Sluggish and poorly read

I could not make it through this book. The story is slow to develop, obvious, and fails to pique the interest.
Aside from Rosalyn Landor, the readers are slow and monotonous. Attempts at accents are inept and irritating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful