This book by Elizabeth Haynes was Amazon's UK Best Book of the Year when it was published last year and has already sold film rights. It deserves to be a best seller in this country in July.
A quick no spoiler recap and a few warnings in this review.
The story begins with a transcript from a 2005 trial in the UK which the reader will be compelled to go back and read a number of times as they travel through this riveting story.
In 2007, Catherine Bailey is a woman inflicted with a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She lives in fear of everything including but not limited to serious relationships. Then the story swiftly flashes back to late 2003 where Catherine is a normal business woman living a normal live but seeking to find the right man to fulfill her life.
Every few pages the story moves back and forth through these time phases as the writer fills in numerous gaps to explain how this normal woman became one who epitomizes OCD.
In each of these time frames, Catherine becomes involved with a man. These two men, one a mysterious man with hidden motives and one a doctor who takes a serious interest in her for various reasons are vital parts of this fascinating story. She has no parents so her female friends and a sympathetic police woman also become major elements of her life.
A few warnings. This is a story of violent physical and mental abuse. It incorporates rape and other methods of physical and sexual torture. In many other books these types of plot turns would simply be for sensationalism. In this incredible tale, these plot turns are vital and fundamental to the story that Haynes is telling.
This is a long book (about 400 pages) and at around page 250, I was thinking I had already learned more about OCD than I ever wanted to know. Also the plot seemed to slow down and some of the elements became repetitive. However, the last 100+ pages are stunning and page turning. All of the previous pages then become more important to understand each and every dramatic twist that occurs. And actually one walks away with a strong perspective about OCD and some of the causes and effects and potential cures.
Some may criticize the conclusion as predicable and cinematic but stay tuned to the last pages to understand what separates "Into the Darkest Corner" from other novels of violent relationships. The reader will walk with a better understanding of how women deal with abuse in their lives. This book is worth reading by women and men as the story imparts some valuable lessons.
It's a first novel by this marvelous and creative writer and she is a name to be reckoned with! Order it in advance and be prepared for a few late Summer nights of valuable and unforgettable reading.
This book may be different from any book you'll read this year. It's harsh and gripping. It alternates chapters between two different time periods but with each one you feel you're on a roller coaster heading for disaster.
Catherine Bailey starts out as a happy, carefree young woman enjoying herself and her friends. But she meets the wrong man and slowly becomes a person who is terrorized and almost killed. The descriptions of OCD are gripping. Her fear jumps off the pages and the reader is carried along with it. Sometimes I had to put the book down to come back to my own safe reality.
This book is not for faint at heart but it is a very good book. And the ending leaves you thinking.
In The Darkest Corner is a layered suspense novel that will scare you to death. What's so frightening about Darkest Corner is that it can and does happen to people every day. Who wouldn't be attractive to a drop-dead gorgeous man who's absolutely obsessed with you? Who isn't looking for the perfect mate, who cares where you are all the time? Who cares what you wear to the point of distraction? Who makes all your friends green with envy?
And what happens when that obsession turns frightening instead of flattering? Haynes has written an amazing debut novel that will keep her readers up far into the night as they try not to see similar behavior to Lee Brightman in their own mates. A character worthy of the plucky heroine, Cathy Bailey, Lee is the perfect date when she first meets him. Physically perfect right down to his clear blue eyes and golden blonde hair, Lee makes Cathy the envy of all of her friends. The relationship starts out perfect. Lee is the kind of man Cathy's been looking for all her life, until little things start to happen. Maybe the sex was a little rough one time, or maybe Lee is a little tiring about the red silk dress he's first seen Cathy in, insisting she wear it would be inappropriate to do so.
With the line between falling in love and obsession so thin, Cathy doubts herself when she starts to think that Lee might not be so perfect after all. When she tries to tell her friends, they brush her off, doubtless because they wish they had a man was perfect of their own.
While there are many books that follow the same sort of plotting, what sets Darkest Corner apart is Cathy's Obsessive Compulsion Disorder(OCD). Funny when you think about it, she comes down with a disorder that causes her to check the locks on her house to the point of ruining her life, when it's Lee's obsessive behavior that causes the disorder in the first place. Maybe OCD should be labeled Obsessive Compulsive Behavior Caused By Some Jerk With Serious Mental Issues, but that might be too many initials. Getting rid of the idea that someone a person just comes down with crazy coping mechanisms.
OCD is mapped out carefully in Darkest Corner, and shows how it can be overcome, something that sets this book above the usual run-of-the-mill girl being stalked by crazy boyfriend. Also, the time line goes back and forth between before Cathy's near murder by Lee, and her coping with her OCD afterwards. Great plot device.
I really liked this book because unlike other books where a woman is abused and then rescued, Darkest Corner shows the heroine going into the deepest corners of her own shadow side and finding the strength to make it back out to the light. How Cathy was chosen by Lee probably because her parents were dead, leaving her with only her girlfriends for backup, and that didn't turn out well.
Great book to have on a plane, or to give to the girlfriends knowing how much it will spook them. And who doesn't like to be the first to discover a new author?
I know I am about to rack up on the "No, this was not helpful" review clicks, but I want to be honest. Here it goes.
I wasn't crazy about this book. Did it grip me, yes. Did I read it quickly and stay interested the whole time, yes. I just did not care for the heroine. She was just not that likable to me. She starts off a party girl who sleeps around and drinks so much that she admits that she doesn't remember a lot of it. Her parents have died, so I guess that is her reason for that behavior. It, unfortunately, made me just not care for her that much. All she does is party and sleep with people in the first part of the book. I have read about party girls before, but somehow they come off better than this heroine did. When the hero starts to fall for her, I kept wondering why. Even when she is somewhat better managing her OCD, I wondered why does he like her? Another issue that I had was her friends. NO ONE believes her. Are you kidding me? Not one friend feels the need to really look into her claims? That bothered me. The switching back and forth between times did bother me at first, but once I realized there was a pattern, it was no big deal.
As far as good things, the author does shine in some spots. I thought it was an interesting look at OCD and PTSD. The author did a fabulous job of describing how a person with these symptoms would live. You can feel the heroine's panic and need for the routines. The way the author explains the reasons behind all the little quirks helps to make you see how someone cold easily fall into an OCD tendency. The mystery itself was pretty good. I kept thinking about the movie "Sleeping With the Enemy" because they are somewhat similar. Again, the heroine was just more likable in that movie.
Don't get me wrong, this is a very compelling book. I wanted to keep reading, but I felt I could have enjoyed it even more.
This novel alternates between the past when Cathy meets a handsome, charismatic man, Lee and begins a relationship with him that quickly turns violent and controlling -- to the present when she has OCD and post-tramautic stress syndrome and tries to start a relationship with a new man.
This story has been told many times before and there is really nothing new here. Even more disappointing was that there were so many things that I just didn't buy. I really didn't buy that all her friends that she had known for years would not believe or help her when she told them about Lee--and also that Cathy allowed herself to be such a victim. In the present, I really didn't see what these men saw in her . . . I mean unless she was so breathtakingly beautiful or something, why did Stuart and his friend think she was so wonderful . . . wonderful enough that Stuart would put up with all of her weird behaviors and keep pursuing her. Also, I can't believe that Stuart kept pooh-poohing her concerns when strange things are happening in the their apartment building, when he knew that her psycho boyfriend had been released from prison. But most of all, I found Cathy to be very weak and unlikeable and when she finally does decide to stand up for herself, she does it so stupidly that I still don't think much of her.
I gave this book three stars because it did keep me interested enough that I finished the book.
on August 19, 2013
This novel of "suspense" has gotten rave reviews all across the web, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. It's such a Hollywood-derivative piece, a Sleeping With the Enemy Part Deux. The protagonist, Cathy, is a walking cliche of a victim of domestic violence, all beautifully wan and glamour-girly, and nothing about her is worth rooting for. She's unsympathetic and dreadfully dull (she spends the majority of her pre-abuse time partying and flirting and nothing else, really -- she's about as interesting as a pretty block of cheese). The abuser is a character lifted from Law and Order: SVU, a moody, sexy, macho type with a perverted streak. Oh, and he's in undercover law enforcement -- another cliche -- so that the "heroine" conveniently finds herself unable to escape.
The secondary characters are also unbelievably drawn. There are the protagonist's so-called friends who are so charmed by the handsome sociopath that they would not believe their FRIEND at all (what kind of friends are these exactly? shallow?). Then there's Stuart, the new love interest, and (another convenient setup) a psychologist, who also doesn't seem to believe Cathy's fears, excusing them as a part of her OCD behavior. The only character who sides with Cathy, genuinely so, is a policewoman who doesn't appear until nearly the END of the novel. (Yet another rushed convenience. Almost a Deus ex Machina of a way out for our poor, OCD & PTSD-suffering heroine).
I was primarily disappointed with the novel because the author is, supposedly, a police intelligence analyst. One would think she'd have an idea how to recreate a believable novel about domestic abuse rather than a Lifetime Movie of the week wannabe.
on June 5, 2012
Catherine Bailey still hasn't met Mr. Right, but she believed her luck might finally have turned when she met Lee Brightman. Four years later, she still hasn't recovered from the horrors she experienced at Lee's hands. Lee is serving a three year sentence after leaving her for dead and Catherine, now Cathy, is trying to make progress with each new day. Even days, odd days, cloudy days, each requires something different. Some days she can barely leave her apartment. Others, she's ok as long as she checks the doors and windows. Cathy needs to feel safe. But when Lee is released, Cathy knows that she may never feel safe again.
Whoa! INTO THE DARKEST CORNER is dark and it's twisted, but once you start, you're not going to want to put this one down.
Elizabeth Haynes's debut thriller is definitely a bit like Sleeping With the Enemy with a little twist. Cathy suffers from serious OCD and PTSD as a result of Lee's violence. Haynes alternates between Catherine at the beginning of - and through - her relationship with Lee and the three years later Cathy, making clear just how much she's changed. The girl who was once a partier with a horde of close friends becomes a loner who cringes at close contact. And as her situation worsens with Lee, it also becomes clear how much strength it's taken for her to survive the whole thing, pointing to an inevitable climactic ending that Haynes delivers 100%.
on February 25, 2011
Out of the last three books I have bought through amazon, this is the only one I finished. The other two I bought based on excellent reviews, and put them down half way through because I was so bored. That being said, I started reading this book with no expectations, and it has ended up being one of the best books I've read in quite a while. I'm sorry now that it is over.
"Into the Darkest Corner" tells the parallel story of Catherine or Cathy, set in two different times: before and during domestic abuse and after (HINT: pay attention to the dates at the beginning of the chapters!). It reminded me a bit of the movie "Sliding Doors" (great flick, by the way!). It is as much a psychological thriller as a suspense novel. What I found so smart about this novel was the similarities between the two time periods: the beginning of a relationship, the rise in suspense, etc. It was like being on two roller coasters at the same time. It was just graphic enough without going over the top: it was not written to shock the reader but to portray what the charactors where going through very well. It was easy to get engaged with all the characters, and the chemistry between the charactors was realistic and didn't feel forced. Not even a quarter of the way into the way into the book, I couldn't put it down.
The only thing I need to warn about is that being an American, I was unfamiliar with some of the dialect. This book was written in England, and although a lot of it I already had an understanding of, there were a few words here and there that I hadn't heard used in that manor before. There wasn't enough of it to detract from the book now, and in fact I think I learned some from it :-).
on April 18, 2011
Not the usual genre of novel I would select but a gripping novel that keeps the tension right until the end. Well written, unusual in it's perspective and in the voice of the 'narrator'. Complete characters that you can believe in. I was a bit frustrated with the main protagonist at times in the same way you watch a horror film and think 'don't go out there you silly...' but the story does enough to explain why she acts as she does.
If you like pyschological thrillers and or crime fiction, you'll definitely like this. Just don't read it at bedtime with the doors unlocked!
All in all a great debut novel, something a bit different from an author who has clearly mastered the art of great story telling.
on September 24, 2012
Based on the high average rating and the numerous positive reviews for this book - including a recommendation from a family member - I read "Into The Darkest Corner" over the weekend. On a side note, I had just finished reading all three Gillian Flynn novels, so my expectations may also have been higher in the "suspense" category.
For starters, I'm not a prude, but I do expect my authors to know how to pull off the use of profanity in a book. In this book, it's just oo much. It has frequent, needless profanity, whether in conversation or just normal prose. It was somewhat jarring, and any good editor worth half their salt would have instructed the author to dial it back a notch (or two. or three.).
The story switches back and forth between events of 4-years-prior and events of "current-day" (2007-8). In many cases, it does so effectively, even occasionally paralleling today situations against "then" situations for a comparison. In many others, the current-day chapter is merely "filler" - nothing occurring other than the main character checking the locks again or having a panic attack again. It is well, well-established that the character is OCD and that she has panic attacks. These chapters with nothing but that do not serve to develop or advance the story at all. Instead, it seems the author just wants to get back to a flashback chapter, but has to keep up with her standard every-other-chapter approach. Again, this is something that a good editor should have caught.
The main character's present-day form is somewhat inconsistent - she is so well-described as a scared, mentally ill/struggling woman that it's hard to believe she even functions enough to go to work, go for a run, etc. She certainly doesn't seem to come across remotely social enough for any complete stranger (like her neighbor's work colleague) to go so far as to think she's charming upon first meeting.
In the end, the story comes wrapped up in a giant, shiny and oh-so-predictable bow, just what anyone who has seen "Enough" or "Sleeping With the Enemy" or pretty much any movie on Lifetime Movie Network would expect. For a book that was trying to keep me on the edge of my seat, that ending was just too pat. The book is satisfactory for a quick weekend read, but I suspect once the hooplah dies down people will realize it's just a run-of-the-mill suspense/thriller book. Nothing to write home about.