Best selling English author Elizabeth Haynes is coming to the U.S. in September when she attends Bouchercon, the mystery/thriller fan convention in New York as well as signings at the Rust Library and One More Page Books in Virginia. Her three stand-alone novels are fast paced, riveting, and intense thrillers. In all the books the protagonist is a woman who appears to be independent at the beginning of the story, a dependency on others is then formed, while at the end the main character truly becomes independent as she takes control of her life. Each plot also has a “knight in shining armor” who acts as moral support, and a male antagonist who is manipulative, charming, and violent. Below is a summary of each book and an interview with Elizabeth Haynes.
Her first book, Into The Darkest Corner, was the Amazon book of the month in June 2012 and Amazon UK Best Book of the Year. Catherine Bailey is a young, carefree woman who enjoys men and the social scene until she meets Lee Brightman, who is handsome and charismatic. What begins as a passionate and attentive relationship turns into an abusive one as Lee displays a dark, violent, increasingly erotic, and controlling behavior.
The story begins with a transcript from a 2005 trial in the UK and moves back and forth through past and present, from 2005 to 2009, showing how the abusive relationship has caused Cathy to struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD. Helping her confront her fears is Stuart Richardson, a psychologist who is also her attractive neighbor.
For anyone wanting to understand what captives go through; the aftermath of an abusive relationship; why abusive women stay with their abuser; how OCD can take over someone’s life; and how someone can become increasingly isolated when their cries for help are not believed, this book is a must read.
Elizabeth gives some insight about Into The Darkest Corner and its characters? “I wrote it as a warning to those young women who go night clubbing and meet a gorgeous man who devotes his constant attention to her. Since in my younger days I also did the nightclub scene I saw that women must be aware of the possibility of a really bad relationship. Unfortunately, Catherine has no family to warn her about the dangers. There are so many reasons why someone stays in an abusive relationship and does not try to escape. They have a range of emotions from anger, to loss of self worth, loss of faith, and the Stockholm Syndrome. To try to gain control, Catherine exhibited OCD, to be able to control every aspect of her environment. By the way, most everything in all my books I have read about in crime reports. If it appears horrible in my books there are people that experience this and worse. I try to bring authenticity to my characters and stories.”
Her next book, Dark Tide has the protagonist, Genevieve Shipley, finding a former friend dead in the river by her houseboat. Once again the main character is clever, witty, athletic, pretty, and appears to be independent. She is a former computer salesperson during the day while at night is an erotic pole dancer whose boss is Fitz, the antagonist. The need for a night job is driven by a promise Genevieve made to her late father, to buy a houseboat, named Revenge of the Tide.
As with her first book, the story switches from the past, flashbacks and dreams, to the present. The male protagonist, Dylan, is the handsome enforcer of the club, but also serves as her protector. Having strong feelings for him Genevieve cannot understand why he is ignoring her phone calls, especially since she is hiding a mysterious package he gave her.
Elizabeth feels that the Dark Tide’s plot is centered around “the location of the boats on the river with the occupants having feelings of fear and safety. This book is also about relationships where Genevieve is fearful of her criminal boss and the attendees of the club. She feels safe around Dylan, and in his presence appears to be fearless, reckless, and clever. I hoped to show how past incidents, although inconsequential at the time, might actually be found relevant in the present. Once again Genevieve had events lead her down a particular path that spiraled into a situation that became out of her control.”
Her just released book, Human Remains, is relationship based, but not in a romantic sense. Annabel Hayer, a police analyst has only her cat, mother, and job to keep her busy. One day, after returning home from work, she discovers her neighbor’s decomposing body and cannot come to grips that no one noticed the victim’s absence. Curious, she starts an investigation at work and finds data that shows there are numerous similar cases in her own hometown. She looks for patterns but the decomposed bodies are of different ages with only one similarity: they are found in a place where the victims normally take comfort. This story shows how people who live on their own are vulnerable. The author is able to make this point through diaries of those who died. The antagonist, Colin, is someone who can be described as a mercy killer except he prompts the desolate people to take action, or more like inaction themselves, by dying through dehydration. As in the other books, the main character is befriended, this time by Sam Everett, who helps her to gain strength emotionally.
How did you get the idea for Human Remains? “I read about people who tear themselves off from society and cause themselves to die alone. I thought, ‘what if I expanded the numbers and have Annabelle bold enough to research what happened.’ There were two true cases that really made an impression on me. The first was of a young man found here in England in a state of decomposition in his house. The second was of a woman found in her flat surrounded by Christmas presents. Family and friends said she cut herself off and was living all alone. That gave me the inspiration to write a story on how easy it is for people to become unnoticed. What has happened to our culture where we don’t even know when a person disappears? The diaries were included to describe a first hand account, to put a face to the incident. It’s very easy to forget they are real people and not a death toll number. There is a person behind the statistic. I hope the readers will understand this book is about ‘alone-ness,’ not loneliness.”
She gave a heads up about her next book, Under a Silent Moon, due for release in 2014. Elizabeth describes this one as a police procedural, a murder in a sleepy English village. As in all her books there is a past and present time-line, although in this novel the past is reflected in the documents of forensic reports, diagrams, and witness reports. She is hoping the reader will enjoy “investigating along with the police. I wanted to show a lot of police investigation is about paper work, which offers the clues.”
Lastly, having worked an outside job and a job at home as an author what is it like to raise a son? “My son is now ten. You would think it is easier to work at home, but the problem is I must be really organized and be able to write when he is at school. Instead, during that time the household chores are done, because I cannot force myself to write at certain times of the day. However, I do find it easier to have a home office then to drive to work. I also enjoy being my own boss, and it does not hurt to have a very supportive husband.”
All of Elizabeth’s books are stand alones; yet they have a pattern, which will hopefully continue into the future. The heroine is a woman who is able to overcome a difficult event and finds a solution mainly on her own. However, she is pushed emotionally by a kind male figure that befriends her, the antithesis of the antagonist, who is cunning and dangerous. These psychological dramas are dark and very explicit, but will keep the readers spellbound and unable to put the books down.