Published: June 29, 2017
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…
Although the author relies on multiple points of view to tell (and retell) the larger story of the “Building Site Baby” as the unidentified infant comes to be known. Three other female characters get drawn into this story by learning about that same news item that piqued Kate’s curiosity. First to appear is a nervous young woman named Emma who’s married to an older professor; like Kate, Emma spots the story in the evening paper and reacts in a gush of purple prose: “I keep reading it over and over. I can’t take it in properly, as if it’s a foreign language. . . . [T]error is coiling around me. Squeezing the air out of my lungs. Making it hard to breathe.”
Then there is Jude, Emma’s mother, a narcissist, who quickly puts an end to the conversation by saying, “Well, we don’t want to talk about dead babies, do we?”
And finally, Angela, an emotionally fragile older woman, is the most sympathetic of the trio. Back in 1970, she gave birth to a baby daughter whom she named Alice. The next day, Alice disappeared from her cot in the hospital. When Angela spots the building-site baby article in the newspaper, she shouts out loud and then insists to her husband, “It’s just after [Alice’s] birthday. That could be a sign.” But the couple has been down this road too many times before. “It will be more heartbreak if you get your hopes up,” advises Angela’s husband. “It’ll make you ill like before.”
How do these three women fit together or do they? Who is the “Building Sight” baby and what happened to it all those years ago?
This was a great read with a great twist at the end.