Having sung the praises of the slightly old-fashioned charm of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying in a recent review, I would have to say that Elizabeth Haynes’ debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, strikes a stark contrast. It is about as chilling and disturbing a book as you are likely to come across, and pulls very few of its punches.
It is none the worse for this however, it is just perhaps not for the easily disturbed. Elizabeth Haynes’ day job as a Crime Analyst has equiped her with the background to deliver an almost uncomfortably realistic experience for the reader. One not to be missed for fans of crime fiction.
Read on for a full review…
So much crime writing today is, to my mind anyway, just a pure litany of violence, with authors seemingly climbing over themselves to outdo each other to reach the heights of shock and gore. I have to be honest, this approach to crime fiction leaves me cold, and to some extent turns me off from reading more of the genre. What sets Into the Darkest Corner apart from this mainstream onslaught, is more than simply the high quality of the writing. It very neatly uses a split timescale to tell not only the story of the crime, but also provides the writer with a platform to delve much deeper, to sensitively explore and depict the after effects of the crime on the story’s main character. These two story lines then slowly and chillingly re-converge as the book progresses towards its suspense filled climax.
Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, the story centres on a young woman, Catherine, who falls for a mysterious and secretive man called Lee, who she initially believes to be a nightclub doorman. As the relationship progresses, it becomes increasingly more possessive and violent, and the more Catherine becomes unnerved and frightened by his behaviour, the less her friends appear inclined to believe her.
The story flicks back and forth between Catherine’s life in 2007, after she has relocated to London in an attempt to rebuild her life, and before in 2003, as she forms her relationship with Lee and gradually gets sucked into a downward spiral of events. This allows an at times harrowing examination of how she has been left suffering from severe OCD, and her courage as she attempts to overcome this. If that were all this book had to offer, it would be a great read, but believe me, it has not finished with you until the last page, and there are also a good number of sub-plots and interesting questions – both moral and legal – raised, which give added richness and depth.
If you are a fan of crime fiction (or even perhaps if you are not), I urge you not to miss reading Into the Darkest Corner. It really is a great story that displays a huge amount of insight and sensitivity. Perhaps only to be avoided if you are of a nervous disposition.
Already read Into the Darkest Corner? What did you think of it? Please post a comment below, Novel Suggestions is always keen to hear your opinions.
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