Published by Myriad Editions (out on Feb 14th)
Highly intelligent but socially inept, Colin spends his free time collecting academic qualifications and searching for ways to meet women, until he stumbles upon a new technique that proves both potent and deadly. Police analyst Annabel is shocked when she discovers a decomposing body in the house next door and realises that no one, including herself, noticed her neighbour’s absence. At work she finds data showing that such cases are frighteningly common in her own town and sets out to investigate, convinced she is on trail of a killer.
On the second day into 2013 it may seem a little premature to announce that I have already found one of my top ten (and very likely top five) reads of the year already, but I genuinely feel that I have.
Just when you think you’ve read everything that crime fiction has to say, all the crimes it can detail and all the ways it can say it, along comes Elizabeth Haynes with this, her third and, in my opinion, greatest book to date. I’d looked forward to reading ‘Human Remains’ for quite some time, since chatting to Elizabeth at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival last summer when she mentioned that this novel had links to her own job as a police intelligence analyst and, all of a sudden, spreadsheets became very interesting indeed.
The story is handled expertly as a multi-character narrative from the point of view of Annabel (the police analyst at the centre of what appears to be a dramatic rise in people found dead and alone in their homes), Colin who may just be a criminal who isn’t committing any crime, and the reflective viewpoints of those who have been left behind – the lonely, the dead, and the decomposing, in their own homes.
It’s a very thought-provoking book, which will guarantee that you will take note of your neighbours almost as soon as you commence reading it. It’s a story that could just happen to any one of us on any day – events that happen every day on any street. When you next hear on the news or read in your local paper that a body has been found in your neighbourhood and that person passed from this world without anyone noticing, you’ll think of this book, and then you’ll have pause to wonder ‘what if’.
The best stories, the best thrills, are when writers or directors put us in places that we’ll never feel safe again. William Goldman and John Schlesinger did it with dentists in Marathon Man, Peter Benchley and Steven Spielberg caused us distress of beaches and water in Jaws, Robert Bloch and Alfred Hitchcock left us never comfortable in our showers with Psycho and now, with ‘Human Remains’, Elizabeth Haynes has put us in our own homes, alone, and she’s shut the door !
There are few writers who could write such disturbing prose so beautifully.
Get a copy ordered now and, when you’ve read it, why not pop next door to see if they’d like to read it – and, whilst you’re there, you can check that they’re all okay.