Release Date: August 20, 2013
Published By: Harper Paperbacks
Length: 447 pages
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Human Remains is a chilling, masterful thriller by New York Timesbestselling author Elizabeth Haynes that explores our darkest fears, showing how vulnerable we are—and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.
Annabel, a police analyst, is shocked when she discovers her neighbor’s decomposing body in the house next door. And she’s appalled to think that no one noticed her absence.
Back at work, she sets out on her own to investigate, and finds that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.
A hymn to all the lonely and compelling characters that haunt our lives,Human Remains is a deeply disturbing and powerful novel of suspense from Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner.
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes is one of the few novels, which accomplished the seemingly impossible. It managed to thoughtfully take me outside of my comfort zone. Certainly I have read a few books, which have resulted in a level of discomfort, but in large part, it was due to poor writing or simply gruesome details. Human Remains however, was a thoughtful and well-written Crime fiction novel, which meticulously deconstructed a taboo subject and brought a new element to the world of Crime Fiction.
Annabel is the protagonist. She is a rather unlikely protagonist. She’s overweight, nearing middle age and she doesn’t really stand out in a crowd. She has, (debatably) an uninteresting job, she is a Police Analyst. Which means she looks at a lot of data to determine trends in crimes. Annabel is also rather lonely, she lives by herself, with a stubborn cat and the only human contact she really has is with her mother. Unfortunately for Annabel, her mother is an elderly lady who is a bit on the grouchy side and she has never appreciated Annabel. So, Annabel is pretty much alone, especially considering the fact that the people at work tend to think that she is simply a weird cat lady. Annabel’s less than exciting life is turned upside down however, the day she finds the decomposing body of her next door neighbor next door. Horrified and frightened over the notion that someone can just die and go unnoticed by the world, Annabel’s initial thought process is that it was just an unfortunate circumstance. Especially since that police fails to be alarmed, after all, she did die of natural causes. Annabel however, while at work does a bit of analysis of her own, and discovers a disturbing trend in the area. The number of bodies discovered in homes have greatly increased when analyzing past years. In fact, many of the victims are rather young. Curious, Annabel digs deeper, despite the fact that those around her fail to recognize the trend. She recognizes that she must aggressively further her analysis, without knowing that she herself could be the next victim.
From his first introduction, it was quite obvious that Colin was unlike most people. He possessed an inhuman cruelness. He is antisocial, and incapable of connecting with others on an emotional level. He has only one friend. Although it is quite apparent that Colin doesn’t care too much about him either. Colin’s interests are quite different that others and he’ll do everything within his means to insure that his curiosity towards the “beauty” of human transformation is realized.
Human Remains is tragically executed. The stories of the lonely are given voice and it is easy to understand that such human frailty could lead to a corruption of the mind. The characters were all human. They were “human”, because their emotions and actions were real. Each character had a level of vulnerability and an importance in Annabel’s world. Sam, the young journalist was a thoughtful, caring and loveable guy, whom Annabel unknowingly needed in her world. Annabel’s co-workers also eventually were useful towards the plot. The character of Colin was masterfully maddening and unlike any character I have ever been introduced to as a reader. Even he had complexities, which in a way managed to explain some of his behavior, but also added the sense of horror, because he could be anyone. Haynes has incredibly managed to take Crime Fiction to new heights and she is certainly an author worth reading again.
At first it was just a feeling, a creeping sense of dread, and then I realized that the windowsill inside the house, just visible in the gloom, was covered with dead flies. And the cat was there, winding herself around my legs, and she was covered in something, some mess, sticky and smelling foul.
Review by: Kellie~