Top positive review
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Timely and utterly captivating depiction of profound mental illness resulting from violent physical and mental abuse
on June 25, 2016
Make no mistake, this marvelous work by English fiction author Elizabeth Haynes (her debut as a novelist) is a frightful, plot twisting and intense journey that is absolutely justified being classified and considered alongside the best current writers of the “Thriller/Suspense” genre. But what takes this book a step deeper is Haynes ability to almost seamlessly administer to the world of mental illness, not just in a perfunctory manner but with clear research; indeed, Haynes states so in the Acknowledgements section at the end; she received immense assistance from experts in the mental health disorder field.
My point here is that this work is beautifully supplemented with much more than the usual abstract and grossly uninformed musings of the demented victims found in so many books of this genre…Ms. Haynes gives our protagonist a totally believable victim suffering from panic disorder and PTSD which results in an overwhelming case of OCD, one which we the reader open the story with.
Now as a caution when just beginning this book, the reader MUST be very aware of each early chapter’s starting timeline and the points being made. Many criticisms of this book complain about the jumps Haynes makes from Cathy Baily’s (the main character) past to the present but these complaints are completely unwarranted…the shifts to and from the past become a pattern that is absolutely crucial to the story, but again, one must be prepared to catalogue the beginning points to then follow along.
What we have here is a case of a misplaced and misunderstood relationship resulting in abuse and violence in which the woman cannot get out of. Catherine Bailey is a young London woman, a bit undisciplined as she and her friends enjoy the drinking and sexing night life so often accorded the single, attractive young adults today. She literally stumbles into Lee Brightman as he works security at a nightclub the girls make their rounds to. One thing leads to another and Lee and Catherine become involved. Unknown to Catherine of course, Lee has a dark past and a job that takes him away for days and weeks at a time. As their relationship moves on, he becomes more and more surly and then more and more violent, hitting and raping her on several occasions. Reaching out to her friends, they refuse to believe that such a “perfect” man could be capable of such atrocities.
These are the drops back in Catherine’s life leading up to her present state in which she lives in mortal fear of an attack while exhibiting overt and disturbing signs of advanced OCD, checking and re-checking the locks on her doors and windows many times over to ensure her safety. It isn’t until Stuart moves into the “flat” upstairs (again this is an English novel full of the requisite British social language) that she starts down the road to recovery, Stuart being a clinical psychologist.
So now with the stage set, anything more would give too much of the story away…let’s just say that Ms. Haynes takes us on a marvelous and thrilling ride that is virtually impossible to put down (I read this in a three day travel weekend and even had to be prodded by a flight attendant to get off the plane because I was so engrossed). And again those that say that this plot was predictable (like so many reviewers of these works do these days) are simply not telling the truth. The ending is marvelous and eerie and not at all expected…a brilliant ending to a brilliant book.
For those who pine for works in this thriller/suspense genre, you MUST read this wonderful debut novel by Elizabeth Haynes. On top of providing a monumental story, she attacks mental illness with a sublime touch that feels absolutely appropriate being integrated here. I definitely look forward to reading her now growing catalogue of novels.