I discovered Elizabeth Haynes last year when I devoured her debut thriller Into the Darkest Corner. (my review) Her latest book, Human Remains, is even better.
"I should have turned away from the door. I should have gone back into my own house, and locked my door, and thought no more about it....I thought about going back to my kitchen and phoning the police. Looking back, that was exactly what I should have done."
Two sentences from the opening chapter guaranteed to hook you right from the beginning. Human Remains is told in alternating chapters from the viewpoint of Annabel and Colin.
Annabel works as a civilian police analyst for the Briarstone (England) Police Department, tracking patterns in criminal behaviour. When she discovers a badly decomposed body in her own neighbourhood with no sign of foul play she's curious and runs a report looking for other people who have died with no one noticing. And what she discovers makes her take notice - the current year has four times as many as the past years. And those are the reported ones.
Colin, well, Colin is the one they're after. For those decomposing bodies hold a fascination for Colin. As his studies have progressed, Colin has begun helping things along. Oh boy, Colin is a seriously creepy and disturbed individual. His inner dialogue is downright frightening. Haynes has done a bang-up job creating her 'villain' this time around.
I love the back and forth style. Although we know who the 'criminal' is, the tension ratchets up as his behaviour escalates. (But why did I italicize criminal you ask? The question arises - is Colin doing anything that he can be charged with? I know, but you have to read the book to see what a diabolical plot Haynes has come up with. Annabel's chapters are just as suspenseful. Will the higher ups in the department listen to her? And when Colin and Annabel's paths cross......
There is a third set of narratives - that of the deceased. I found these to be the pages I stopped at to think. Haynes gives a voice to her deceased and the questions that the living ask when such a discovery is made. How does a body go undiscovered for years? Why did no one notice?
"You never realize what loneliness is until it creeps up on you - like a disease it is, something that happens to you gradually. I realized it had been years and years since anyone made eye contact with me. If people stop looking at you, do you cease to exist? Does it mean you're not a person anymore? Does it mean you're already dead?"
Their stories just really made me think. The library I work at does serve some marginalized patrons. I've often thought that for some, we may be the only point of contact some days. In real life, there are many deaths that go unnoticed. One of the most reported 'undiscovered body stories' is that of Joyce Vincent in England.
This is an excellent thriller - dark and disturbing. (Fair warning to gentle readers it's probably not for you). It was a five star page turner for me - devoured in one lazy vacation day. Read an excerpt of Human Remains. (And hey - say hi to your neighbour today...)
"Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence analyst, a civilian role that involves determining patterns in offending and criminal behavior. Dark Tide is her second novel; rights to her first, Into the Darkest Corner, have been sold in twenty-five territories. Haynes lives in England in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son." You can find Elizabeth Haynes on Twitter and on Facebook.
See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here. Haynes is at work on her fourth book - Under a Silent Moon - another crime thriller set in Briarstone. It's on my 'must read' list.