'The Suspect' by Fiona Barton
I didn't know when I started this book that it's part of a three-book series, but as it turned out, that didn't matter. Though there were points at which the characters alluded to their prior relationship and cases, I was able to get a keen and immediate sense of who they are and what they mean to each other without getting info that acts as spoilers for the previous books.
Anyway, this one was a classic, well-constructed and impeccably paced police procedural. It follows Kate Waters, a reporter who is in the middle of a slow news cycle when news of two young women missing during a trip to Thailand comes across her desk. The glimmer of a story hits home for Kate whose own son, Jake is in Thailand, taking an unexpected gap year after the start of what Kate believed was going to be an exceptional academic future. The novel unfolds in three distinct parts, following The Reporter (Kate), The Mother (of one of the missing girls) and The Detective--Bob Sparkes whose wife has terminal cancer and mere weeks to live. Interspersed are excerpts from the emails and consciousness of one of the girls, documenting the sharp deterioration of her Thailand adventure from one that promises to be exciting and filled with possibilities to one that's frightening and filled with menace.
This is a great read if you like mysteries that lean heavily on reality and dispense with gimmicky twists and far-fetched turns of events. Apart from the intriguing premise, there was a fair amount of insight about that perilous period in parenting, when you have to let your kids go out into the world to become their full and complete selves and the period when you realize that despite your influence, they always have been.
I plan to read the other two in this series. The core characters--Kate and Det. Sparkes--were interesting enough for me to to be curious about what they were up to before I met them in this one. Recommended.
My rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑