Human Remains – Elizabeth Haynes

Title – Human Remains

Author – Elizabeth Haynes

Published – 14 Feb 2013

Genre – Psychological thriller

I was lucky to receive a copy of this book from @MyriadEditions in advance of its publication on Valentine’s Day later this year, although I’m not sure that it will be the most romantic of gifts! Despite being a huge fan of Haynes’ debut (Into the Darkest Corner) I have yet to read her second novel (Revenge of the Tide) but I was keen to see what else she had in store.

Before getting into too much detail I must say that this is one of those books that is very difficult to review without giving away anything of the story by way of a spoiler. I have tried to be careful.

The opening chapter is great example for any writer who wants to see how to create tension – proper edge of your seat stuff!

We see the events unfolding from two different perspectives. Annabel is an intelligence analyst for the police. She’s overweight, has no social life and thinks that her colleagues are talking about her behind her back. She lives alone with her cat for company and seems to be the only support for her elderly Mum. Colin is a highly intelligent young man with the strangest of obsessions. He too has a very limited social circle, and he’s had a less than perfect childhood. He’s single and I would say “looking for love” but that’s not really what he’s looking for. In fact Colin is turned on by pretty unconventional things and spends quite a lot of time, er, “pleasuring” himself.

Annabel spots a huge increase in the number of bodies of lone people being found dead in their own homes weeks or months after their deaths. Without any suspicious circumstances it’s a struggle for her to persuade bosses to take her seriously, but the issue does interest the local paper and in particular a young journalist. This is where the story really develops into a search for a cause or reason for these deaths.

As well as giving the characters of Annabel and Colin their own unique voices there are also “cameo” appearances by some of the people who are found dead. Haynes does an excellent job of giving these people very individual voices too. And these are all such sad stories! The book has quite a lot of gruesome description in it, although it is largely lacking in violence. It proved not to be the ideal read while eating lunch!!

This is truly a psychological thriller – but I can’t really say any more without giving the game away. I was actually fascinated by the methods used by the perpetrator and am looking forward to being able to talk to other people about this when they’ve read the book. I’m just glad I don’t live alone.

This is an unsusual and intriguing story and as well being a gripping thriller it is also fascinating to watch the characters of Colin and Annabel develop over the course of the book. It’s thought-provoking and certainly makes you question the power of the mind. This is a personal review, though, so it’s a 4 star read as I  didn’t actually like Annabel very much – for me the best fiction is where I really engage with the main character.

I stand by my original thought that fans of Nicci French novels will also enjoy books by Haynes.

You can see other reviews on the blogs Books and Writers and Pamreader.

Score – 4/5

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4 comments

  1. Oh, it sounds as though this is an interesting novel with an unusual set of perspectives. I’m very glad you enjoyed it. I must look it up when it comes out. In the meantime, don’t worry. From my perspective anyway you didn’t spoil the story.

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