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Into the Darkest Corner: A Novel
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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.
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on August 10, 2017
This is the first time I have ever written a book review...that is how much I disliked this book. I haven't been able to make it through to the end because it is so slow and not interesting in the slightest. Looking at other reviews, I had high hopes for the book! But from the start, it switched from speaking in a 3rd person point of view, to suddenly a first person point of view for the rest of the book. That bothered me. Then, reading the long winded chapters about her "checking" and the juvenile relationship descriptions with Lee and with Stuart, its almost painful. I also thought all of the profanity wasn't necessary. I am all for cursing to get your point across, but it didn't make sense to use it (so much) in this book. It's obvious from the beginning where it's going but it's stretched out for way. too. long. Maybe as a young adult novel, it's on par but I could not get in to it.
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on January 2, 2017
I wanted to like this book, really I did. I just couldn't get into it and it took me forever to pick it up and try to finish it. The plot was so slow and the characters were not interesting at all. The main character starts off as just a party girl but even that didn't make her interesting at all. In fact all the characters seemed very cliche and standard. As the story went on there were no redeeming qualities in any of the characters at all and they never grew or changed in any way.

I wanted to care but found myself just reading and skipping paragraphs to make it through the book. There was a lot of switching from present day to the past that was kind of ok but sometimes it was confusing or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention. I just finished the book because I thought that maybe there would be something that would make this a thriller.
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on June 17, 2017
An exceptionally good psychological thriller that kept me on edge for most of the book. Written with alternating past and present threads, it relates how Cathy, a carefree single party girl fell in love with the handsome Lee, undercover policeman, and how he gradually took over control of her life and every movement. Obsessed with her and constantly watching her, he becomes abusive and turns her into a fearful wreck. Four years later while Lee has been in jail for nearly killing her, Cathy suffering from PTSD and OCD, is trying to rebuild her life but jumps at shadows and trusts no one. When she finds out Lee is about to be released, her anxiety levels ramp up even further. This is such an accomplished debut novel, quite gritty and confronting, it is very tense and a real page turner.
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on March 31, 2017
What a THRILLER! I was thoroughly hooked with this one, right from the very start. This book had so many rave reviews that I wasn't even going to add my voice to the cheers for Elizabeth Raynes. But I have to say that this is an amazing book, and I find it complete astounding that this is her first published work.

I suggested this book for my Book Club, and last week it was so well received and it stimulated an enthusiastic discussion. So besides recommending this book for a private read, I'd say that "Into the Darkest Corner" is especially fine for a Book Club.

The book has a double narrative, and we concurrently hear the story of "Catherine" in 2004 and "Cathy" in 2008. The woman's transformation from party-girl to a fearful recluse rings true. Usually I prefer a book with a more traditional start-to-finish structure, but the results here were perfect! The contrast between Catherine and Cathy (same person) is dramatic and tells so much. It is skillfully done (the double narrative), and both sides of her story are suspenseful - at some parts, almost intolerably so!

This is the kind of book that a person who loves psychological mysteries will seek out. Five-Stars for a terrifying ride through the essence of fear!
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on May 22, 2013
More of a 4.5 stars, because this one was a bit tricky. Into the Darkest Corner is a engrossing cautionary tale of romance and obsession. It deals with loads of psychological issues in both their short and long term effects, and it was just so completely unputdownable I spent several hours in which I should have been studying for finals with my eyes stuck to Cathy Bailey's story.

Basically, picture the following: You meet a guy, an intensely attractive and seemingly perfect guy, and ,out of some improbable conjunction of stars or rare alignment of planets, you both start dating. Your friends love him, he loves you, and it's all just red-paper hearts and champagne bottles, up until Perfect Guy starts veering a bit to the odd side. He doesn't like it when you go out with your friends without him, he has some very strong suggestions as to what you should wear, and, occasionally, the rough sex he has with you is less Fifty Shades of Gray than it is Fifthy Shades of Sore. Things get out of control and soon you find yourself beat up and traumatized, among other things, and as it manages to do once in a while, the system works and your ex goes to prison. Three years later, you're a different person, scared of people who aren't there, checking locks you know you already locked. Three years later, you might finally find happiness again. But three years later, is also when he gets out of jail, and you just know he's coming back for you.

Into The Darkest Corner was fraught with tension and good writing, and despite veering towards the not-so-great as it neared its end, the book still had me hooked all through its 497 pages, plus it ended in a moment of ominous foreboding. I worried with Cathy, laughed with her, felt sorry for her, and was rejoiced to see her life finally make a turn for the better. As is the case with most thrillers, the ending doesn't make justice to the rest of the book, but despite that I burned through Into The Darkest Corner faster than I would most good books, and it is one of the best debuts I've read so far, along with Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects and S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep.

I don't believe this is a book for everyone, due to the heavy domestic violence it portrays, but I don't think it ought to be a issue for most, especially since Ms. Haynes manages to weave lighthearted, romantic moments perfectly with instances of either spine-tingling suspense or shocking violence. If you are looking for a thriller that will grab you by the neck and won't let go of it until all the pages are past you and you're left panting for air, Into the Darkest Corner is it.
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on April 17, 2014
The book interestingly portrays the potential psychological ramifications which physical/emotional abuse can have on a victim. The obsessive-compulsive disorder developed by Catherine, the main character and survivor of past abuse, as a mechanism for coping with her unwanted memories is convincingly depicted in this book, as is her struggle to overcome this disabling condition - though, in my opinion, the speed of her recovery is a little suspect. It is this aspect of the story on which I base my 3-star rating. Absent this, there is little else about the book to recommend. The plot moves slowly, leaves several loose ends (e.g., we never do find out what ultimately happens to her hospitalized housemate), and Lee's (the abuser's) actions, both throughout the book & at the end, have an artificial unreality about them - which is due, in large part, to the fact that the portrayal of Lee seems to focus on presenting him as "we" would expect an abuser, with some modicum of conscience, to be presented. We actually, however, learn nothing about Lee in terms of his actions and motivations from his perspective. This lack of any insightful "personalization" can be seen as well in the all of the other characters who surround Catherine. Given the length of this book, I think the author would have better served her readers had she spent a little more time developing her characters, and a little less time repeating actions/scenes/conversations that are of absolutely no consequence to the story. For example, in numerous scenes that were devoted to describing "outings" and "in-house" activities undertaken by Catherine and her new boyfriend Stuart, we were repeatedly subjected to conversations and descriptions about how tired they were, the hours they were working, how much wine they drank, what Stuart was cooking for dinner, and Catherine's penchant for hearing noises, while Stuart remained sleeping beside her. At then end of the book, Stuart remained even more of an enigma than Lee.
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Sometimes, you read a book that gets inside of your head and makes you realize how quickly things can turn sour in a relationship. This is one of those books.

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.
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on February 8, 2015
She starts out being called Catherine. When she's left for dead and finally recovers her life, she goes by Cathy.

Catherine meets gorgeous Lee in a bar and they start dating. At first everything is perfect! Lee's the perfect boyfriend, and Catherine is the envy of all her girlfriends. Little by little, Lee begins to control Catherine, telling her what to wear, not wanting her to hang out with her friends, gets jealous of her guy friends. And then it gets worse. The violence begins. Lee begins beating and raping Catherine for any reason and no reason. She feels trapped, and can't muster enough courage to escape. Eventually she does, and Lee is imprisoned for three years.

Now Cathy, she goes about rebuilding her life, but she's always looking over shoulder. She should, because Lee is released after three years in prison and he wants her back. She develops OCD and PTSD, and she goes through ritual after ritual checking her doors and windows over and over again. Handsome psychologist Stuart moves into her building and notices her OCD right away. And he urges her to get help, which she does.

I would have given this book five stars but for two things that bothered me. 1) I didn't feel any chemistry between Cathy and Stuart, her psychologist neighbor. I couldn't see someone like Stuart falling for someone like Cathy (she earned quite a reputation as a sexpot prior to meeting her abuser). 2) Even as Cathy tells her BEST friend about Lee's abuse, the friend brushes it off and doesn't believe her. How could someone so gorgeous as Lee be so evil? How naive! That behavior didn't ring true for me.

I'll sheepishly admit this book gave me the willies. I finished the book alone in my home with my husband out. I jumped a few times as I heard noises and creeks and cracks! Just the house settling or the wind, but you never know, do you?
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on September 7, 2013
I'm going to start my review with a big, bold statement - Into the Darkest Corner is probably one of the best psychological crime mysteries I've ever read. I read even read it whilst walking to work (Walking people, walking!) because I just couldn't put it down. Now, the book had been on my shelf for nearly two years, but it was as soon as I read April at My Shelf Confessions' review, that I knew I had to read it.

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.
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