Book Reviews

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Monday, 28 January 2013

Human Remains - Elizabeth Haynes




‘I wanted to go home and lock the door and not open it again.’

This is the third novel from crime writer Elizabeth Haynes and for me this is her darkest yet. Annabel works as an analyst for the police. She is lonely, with just her cat Lucy for company at home, and a few visits a week to her housebound mum to separate her days. She works hard, and doesn’t have any other close relationships, seeing the friendships amongst others at work go on around her without being part of them, feeling rather disconnected.

Having made a grim discovery in the house next door to hers one day, she realises on her return to work that similar deaths are happening in an alarmingly high number in the locality, and takes this information to her bosses at the police station. Why are so many people dying alone at home, not being discovered for some time after their deaths? Though seeming unsuspicious and raising little interest at first– these are deaths after all, not murders, aren’t they? – not least a local journalist, Sam Everett.

Through other lonely, troubled voices that are heard briefly in the story, and primarily through Annabel, this novel examines loneliness and the vulnerability of it, whether society should do more for those living alone, making us question our duty to others, and it makes you wonder about both choosing to be alone and ending up that way. As the neighbour of someone who has been found dead and alone comments ‘I think it’s terrible that in this day and age nobody notices you’re gone…People should take more care of each other.’ This is not to say that the novel offers no hope in this regard; in fact there are people who demonstrate the very opposite and offer kindness and friendship just when it is most needed.

Haynes has created a cold, chilling character for the criminal in this novel. She takes us into his mind; we know that from the outside he looks just like anyone else, he goes to work, goes about his life, no one would know what else he does in private: ‘If you met me in the street I dare say you would not be unduly worried by my presence…’ But inside that twisted mind are the thoughts of man playing with the lives of others and relishing what he does, even believing he is helping them to escape, using his own particular methods: ‘You want to know how I do it, don’t you? I can imagine it, your fervent interest, your curiosity that others might describe as morbid: I can see it in the sparkle in your eyes. Well, ask me, then. Go on. I know you’re dying to…’ The language here is so apt – morbid, dying to’ – in keeping with the subject matter of the book.

Elizabeth Haynes established herself as a must-read author for me with Into the Darkest Corner. This novel confirms her talent for getting to the heart of the darkest minds and imagining the awful horrors they might commit. She has crafted another compelling story, with characters that get under your skin, a mystery and investigation that keeps you turning the pages, and with a dark, creepy air pervading it all.

Published by Myriad Editions

You can follow the author on twitter @Elizjhaynes and visit her blog here.

My reviews of Into the Darkest Corner and Revenge of the Tide. 


Thanks to the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this novel to read and review. 




Three super reads! Don't they look good together!



11 comments:

  1. I still have to read Revenge of the Tide...must remedy that! Into the Darkest Corner was a supremely chilling read, looking forward to acquiring this one soon.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked ITDC Treez. Definitely give the other two a go. Revenge of the Tide isn't quite as dark though still has plenty of mystery and light and dark within the range of characters.

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  2. This sounds properly chilling, not one to read on your own late at night! I haven't read any of her books, but I think I might give them a go (as long as I can hold my nerve).

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    1. Sarah, it is dark (for me at least), I think I read it all during the day :) I would definitely recommened Into the Darkest Corner most of all, it was my book of the year 2012 and is a brilliant psychological thriller.

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  3. I’ve not read anything by Elizabeth Haynes, but this sounds fascinating. I’ve now added it and the other two books you mention to my must-read list.

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    1. Barbara, this is a dark, somewhat creepy read, I do hope you enjoy this one and the others if you try them.

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  4. I loved the first book - it had flaws but there was so much good that they were forgivable - but I haven't read the second yet. This sounds great and, after a long lay off, crime fiction is calling me again.

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  5. I loved both her other books and can't wait to get my mitts on this one, thanks for the interesting review.

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    1. Jan, they are both top reads aren't they. I'll be interested to see what you make of this one. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. I loved Into the Darkest Corner - didn't know there are 3 books already!

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    1. Yes, this one is out here in February, and Revenge of the Tide came out last year. Plenty of time to still read them though! Thanks for commenting.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it :)