Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

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Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The eagerly-awaited third book from Elizabeth Haynes is no disappointment. It's a slight departure from her previous style but it just goes to prove her versatility.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: February 2013
Publisher: Myriad Editions
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1908434180

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Annabel lived on her own, with a life filled by her job as a police intelligence analyst, her ageing mother and her cat. It was the cat that began the story, as she led Annabel to the house next door, where there was a body which had obviously been there a long time. Decomposition was advanced but Annabel hadn't known that there was anyone living there and it seemed that no one else cared. Back at work curiosity took hold and it seemed that there had been rather a lot of bodies which had lain undiscovered over the last few months - and definitely more than in previous years. There was, though, no suggestion that death was other than through natural causes so it was difficult to get her police colleagues interested.

There was a reason behind it though and his name was Colin, although that wasn't the name he used when he met lonely people. He didn't prey on them in the accepted sense of the word - he took nothing from them, didn't hurt them and rarely, if ever, touched them. Yet a surprising number of them - and it wasn't just the old - died, usually to be found much later. Colin did get quite a thrill out of this. He was a decidedly odd man, but was he doing anything criminal and where would it all end?

Elizabeth Haynes was my great discovery of 2011 and I wasn't the only person who thought that Into The Darkest Corner was one of the most readable books of the year. A year later Revenge of the Tide confirmed that Haynes was an author to watch. Both books were basically about relationships and the story was told using two timelines. Human Remains has one timeline, but two narrators and it's really about the absence of relationships. So, does it work?

In the first part of the book, I wondered if it was going to. There didn't appear to be a crime and the deaths all seemed to be a little repetitious. Even Colin was getting a bit bored by it all, but it was the character of Annabel who pulled me through. She's at that age where youth has gone but she's probably not yet old enough to be called middle-aged. Haynes nails her perfectly: you probably think that you know lots of people just like her, but the truth is that if you knew them, interacted with them on more than just a casual basis then they wouldn't be as they are. Annabel has no self-pity - in fact, she's a tenacious fighter. But in literary terms, it's the character of Colin which points up just how good a writer Haynes is. He's hyper-intelligent with severe personality problems but Haynes brings him off the page in such a way that you have no difficulty in believing that lonely people would feel comfortable with him.

Haynes works as an intelligence analyst for the police and obviously draws deeply on her own experience, so it wasn't just a good read but an enlightening one too. Once I got into the book it became a compelling read. I think it's now safe to say that Elizabeth Haynes is no longer just a rising star. She is a star.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

I'm sure that you'll want to read the earlier books if you haven't already done so, but for another author who is being described as a rising star, we can recommend Something You Are by Hanna Jameson. You might also appreciate Violet by S J I Holliday.

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Buy Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes at


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