The Suspect by Fiona Barton [in Booklist]
In Fiona Barton’s third “Kate Waters” full-audio-cast thriller, Susan Duerden assumes tenacious journalist Kate Waters from Mandy Williams who previously voiced Kate in The Widow and The Child. This time the mystery gets personal – and far-flung.
Two British teens traveling in Thailand turn up as victims in a suspicious fire. Kate arrives in Bangkok to report and discovers that the single eyewitness is her estranged son, who left university to travel. He’s done another runner from his hospital bed, adding to the reasons that mark him as The Suspect.
Duerden’s Kate moves persuasively between resolute reporter and panicked parent. Katharine McEwan, as victim Alex, wavers convincingly among bravado, regret, and fear. Fiona Hardingham as Alex’s mother adroitly embodies initial concern and then moves from crescendo-ing desperation to abject acceptance. Nicholas Guy Smith returns from The Widow as Detective Sparkes, balancing his gruff professional persona with gentleness as he tends to his dying wife.
The one disappointment is the Thai characters’ less-than-believable accented English which gratingly differs between narrators. Annoyance aside, a who’s-who-of-narrators revealed at recording’s end is especially appreciated. That such an easy detail is so rare deserves an eye-rolling headshake at neglectful producers.