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Into the Darkest Corner: A Novel Hardcover – June 5, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: Many times as I was reading Into the Darkest Corner, the refrain from that old R&B song kept replaying in my head: "It's a thin line between love and hate..." Apologies, as it'll now be stuck in yours for the next couple of days, but Elizabeth Haynes' highly suspenseful and cleverly crafted psychological thriller will haunt you for much longer. In it we find our obsessive-compulsive heroine, Catherine Bailey, checking and rechecking her door locks six times, eschewing red clothing, shopping only on certain days--clearly something horrible has happened, and Haynes masterfully teases out the disturbing details, which involve a Jekyll and Hyde boyfriend. As the story unfolds, it provides subtle insight into why, despite red flags and bruises, someone would stay in an abusive relationship, and it makes you root for Catherine all the more to overcome the psychological fallout. If you're a fan of cinematic showdowns, you won't be disappointed. But the quietly powerful moments in Haynes' narrative resonate even more, as she illustrates that one of the bravest things someone can do is lock the door behind her, maybe five or six times, and step out into an uncertain world again. --Erin Kodicek
“Harrowing.” (New York Times Book Review)
“A highly suspenseful and cleverly-crafted psychological thriller….Haynes masterfully teases out the disturbing details, which involve a Jekyll and Hyde boyfriend. If you’re a fan of cinematic showdowns you won’t be disappointed, but it’s also the quietly powerful moments in Haynes’s narrative that resonate.” (E
“In this violent, gripping suspense novel, a woman with obsessive compulsive disorder lives in fear of her unstable, stalker ex-boyfriend.” (Wall Street Journal)
“A sexy psychological thriller…. Anyone looking for a suspenseful read this summer at the beach, pick up Into the Darkest Corner.” (J
“Gripping psychological thriller. . . . Haynes puts the reader into Bailey’s mind and the result is a grim, dark and extremely difficult story. The feelings of isolation and helplessness ooze off the page. . . A compelling first novel.” (Associated Press)
“Check the locks on your doors and windows and surrender to this obsessive thriller.” (K
“A chilling page-turner.” (Booklist)
“This intense, gripping account of domestic violence and its aftermath is utterly unputdownable. A stunning debut.” (S.J. W
“A harrowing psychological thriller….A terrifying and convincing portrayal of an abusive relationship and a damaged woman’s heroic attempts to recover from it.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“A chilling, page-turning read, which charts domestic violence without flinching and portrays OCD with insight and compassion.” (R
“A scary and superbly written debut thriller.” (Library Journal, starred review)
“Into the Darkest Corner is a gripping page-turner that will suck you in from the first scene and not let you go you until it reaches its stunning conclusion.” (C
“Gripping.” (The Guardian)
“Fantastic.” (Newbooks Magazine)
“Chilling.” (The Book Case, 20 summer standouts)
“A tour de force début novel that is both creepily disturbing and yet beautifully rendered.” (S
“Haynes is a master at building tension to unbearable heights, and her thorough and thoughtful exploration of the psychological fallout of abuse adds a unique layer to the story….Into the Darkest Corner is a terrifying thriller.” (BookPage)
“Gripping….A compelling first novel.” (J
“This mind-bending thriller will give you chills as you follow a young woman who is trying to escape her ex-boyfriend - and her own demons.” (Cosmopolitan)
“A gripping psychological thriller....A terrifying cautionary tale of modern relationships.” (Miami Herald)
Top customer reviews
Into the Darkest Corner is the story of Catherine, who was once young and carefree with a large group of friends and a party-girl lifestyle, but now finds herself living in near-isolation and completely controlled by her OCD. Her obsessions and compulsions are based around her need to feel 'safe' in her own home, which makes her particularly easy to be sympathetic with, as home is where everyone SHOULD feel safe, but even with all her precautions, her life is spent constantly watching over her shoulder. But I also found myself admiring her because even with all of her rituals, she continues to try and live a normal life, going to work and trying to socialise as much as she can overcome her need to hide away from the world.
Told in flashbacks between then and now, Into the Darkest Corner gradually builds in intensity, but the tension is there right from the beginning. As things go from worse to worse in Catherine's life, there were times when I found myself getting quite angry - particularly with her friends who pretty much told her to stop complaining and be grateful that she had such a wonderful boyfriend.
The real genius of this book is that Haynes actually started to make ME paranoid too - at several points I started to question whether everything was in Catherine's head or whether characters that come into her life were actually who they seemed to be, which demonstrated how living with that much tension and fear can really play with someone's mind. And I was just reading it!
Clever, scary, intense and addictive, Into the Darkest Corner is a book that I'd push onto anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers, crime fiction or adult fiction that really sucks you into the story and doesn't let go, even after the last page.
The story flips back and forth between the year Catherine meets Lee and 4 years after that year. Catherine is young, pretty, single and living it up. She and her friends hit the hottest spots in town to dance and drink. Lee is working security at one of those spots and they are immediately taken with each other. They begin dating, though this is hard because Lee has another job about which he is less forthcoming. He disappears for days at a time. But the attraction is too much for Catherine to give up. At first.
Four years later, Catherine is no longer the life of the party. She is crippled by OCD, which finds her checking the locks on her doors and windows over and over again. She doesn't trust anyone. She doesn't dress in alluring outfits anymore. She is basically existing, but not living.
How well do you really know anyone? How many times have we heard the same story over and over where the neighbor says, he seemed really nice and quiet?
I found the character of Catherine annoying at first, but then warmed to her. Her compassion toward one of the people who betrayed her was amazing. She had been in those shoes and she wasn't going to treat this person badly. I also thought that her OCD treatment was compelling. It's so easy to say, well, it's just stupid that you feel as though you need to do that, but that behavior is usually the result of a traumatic situation. Our minds have to make sense of it in some way and so we develop routines or workarounds to do so.
British vernacular is a bit different from ours, and I think that causes some disconnect. Words that we Americans view as taboo are commonplace there, and that can put you off. I bought the book for my mom, but I warned her that the language was rough and to just try to skip through the intimate scenes. That's the reason I'm giving it less than 5 stars.
But overall, really just blows your mind. Well done.
Highly recommend, though caution for content.
The Praises for this book nail it: "Highly suspenseful"; "Check the locks on your doors and windows"; "psychological fallout of abuse"; "Chilling". You will feel this woman's every pain, fear, suspicion. You will not for a moment doubt her sanity. You know from the start she is 100% spot-on with her unsettlements.
I find it fascinating - yet so logical - that the policewoman (Sam Hollands) had the brilliance to give Catherine one single word to use if Catherine ever had to give Sam a clue that all was NOT ok.
I would be interested what other readers take away from the "Cross Examination" of Sylvia toward the end of the book - I find myself wondering how that all played out. I also wonder about the ultimate final ending for Lee. The ending discovery by Catherine with Lee's letter will stay with you a LONG time...
I find this story to have been very well written. I slept in late many mornings due to my being unable to close my Kindle until after midnight - and I had to force myself not to finish the book each night. This is a highly emotional, intense story that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys suspenseful thrillers, but most especially to anyone who has suffered any kind of similar trauma that they have managed to work through and survive.