First off, although this is Elizabeth Haynes’ third published novel, it’s the is the first of her books that I have read (despite having all three in my teetering to-be-read pile…) Something about the title and the premise sold it to me… I’ve often ‘joked’ that one of my neighbours could be dead because I don’t see them for weeks, even months on end; and despite that fact that we don’t really get on, I wouldn’t particularly like to be faced with her putrefying corpse. Her noisy husband though, well, that’s another story… Anyway – here’s the blurb:
How well do you know your neighbours? Would you notice if they lived or died?
Police analyst Annabel wouldn’t describe herself as lonely. Her work keeps her busy and the needs of her ageing mother and her cat are more than enough to fill her time when she’s on her own. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, and appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed her absence.
Back at work she sets out to investigate, despite her police officer colleagues lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are frighteningly common in her own home town.
A chilling thriller and a hymn to all the lonely people, whose individual voices haunt the pages, Elizabeth Haynes new novel is a deeply disturbing and powerful thriller that preys on our darkest fears, showing how vulnerable we are when we live alone, and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.
* * *
What did I think of it? Three words… terrifying, intriguing, realistic.
The story is told through the eyes of Annabel, a police analyst who feels shunned by her colleagues and with no one but a demanding elderly mother to look out for her. The thing about Annabel is that a lot of what she experiences is really down to herself, and it becomes clearer later on that she is an attractive, engaging person who others want to interact with – but by not believing in herself, she’s fulfilled that horrible cliche of ‘if you don’t love yourself, then you can’t expect anyone to love you’. One thing she is confident about though, is her job – and the realism of her investigative skills without turning her into a Jessica Fletcher parody is what really impressed me about this character.
The story is also told through the eyes of an altogether unsavoury chap called Colin… who can’t be called anything other than a complete wanker (sorry, you’ll need to read the book to get the full enormity of this reference). I was fascinated by Colin. His motivations, his emotional stuntedness, and more than anything his ‘technique’. It’s certainly made me far more interested than I was in Neuro-Linguistic Programming!
There are other characters’ POVs too, but I don’t want to say any more as I think it will spoil it. All I’ll say is this: if you look up ‘Psychological Thriller Author’ in the dictionary, you’ll find a photo of Elizabeth Haynes right at the top.