Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

Cathy Bailey meets Lee one day at a nightclub and for a while, everything is perfect.  Their relationship is good and all her friends are jealous that Cathy has found someone to settle down with.  But then things start to change.  The signs are small at first - minor jealousy about Cathy going out on her own, a ridiculous suggestion that she give up her job so as to be always there when he has a day off, direct suggestions about what to wear.  But Lee becomes increasingly controlling, taking away Cathy's passport, following her around town and finally becoming violent.  Cathy's caught in a net with no one to turn to as all her friends think Lee is wonderful, that she's lucky to have such a man.  She starts to plan a desperate escape but the violence in the relationship is escalating - will Cathy ever be able to break away?

Psychological thrillers are not something I am generally familiar with, I chose to read this one as I wanted something fast, gripping and escapist to stop me thinking about going back to work!  And Into the Darkest Corner certainly did what I had hoped it would; it sucked me into the story and had me turning the pages as fast as I could to find out what would happen to Cathy.  I am very fortunate to have never experienced domestic violence but for the millions of people across the world who have, Into the Darkest Corner will definitely strike a chord.  Haynes does a good job of portraying how abuse and control slowly creep in, how Lee slowly isolates Cathy from everyone around her so she has no way of leaving him.  He charms her friends to the extent that no one will believe how horrific his behaviour really is.  At first Cathy doesn't even notice the small signs of abuse and the build up is realistic to the extent it's sometimes painful to read.  You want to jump into the book and shout at Cathy to run away without looking back.

Into the Darkest Corner has an unusual structure.  Short sections about Cathy's relationship with Lee are alternated with sections about Cathy's life much later on.  Although this removes some of the tension as we immediately know Cathy survives it also creates tension as the later version of Cathy is clearly physically and emotionally damaged.  She suffers with OCD, particularly relating to checking her flat is secure, is constantly looking over her shoulder for Lee to hunt her down and is unable to properly take care of herself or enjoy life.  She's covered in scars and for the reader the questions from the opening sections are 'what happened to Cathy to leave her like this?  How did the relationship finally end?'  Wanting to find out the answers to these questions kept me reading as quickly as possible, this book was never boring.

The writing in Into the Darkest Corner isn't fantastic or particularly beautiful, but that isn't what this book is about.  It's all about the story and suspense and fear and these parts are executed very well by Haynes.  Anyone who enjoys thrillers would appreciate this book, particularly those who liked S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep as there are lots of similarities in style.

Source: Kindle (personal copy)
First Published: 2011
Score: 4 out of 5

19 comments:

  1. We seem to be reading all the same books. :) I picked this to read yesterday as well. I kept me interested and moved quickly. I liked the alternating story lines. The thrillers I've read don't usually go into what happens after the abuse. In this one, you see what happpens to her, how it damages her life. It also provided two levels of tension - from the early abuse and from how she's trying to cope and what happens next.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a bit spooky! You aren't reading Sense & Sensibility at the moment are you? :P
      I agree about the alternating story lines, I really felt for Cathy when it became clear how much she was suffering.

      Delete
  2. I like psychological thrillers but although I quite enjoyed this one I didn't think it was great. I actually felt the same about Before I Go To Sleep so maybe it's me and having too high expectations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a novice to the genre so I have no idea whether this or Before I Go to Sleep actually measures up. What psychological thrillers would you recommend?

      Delete
    2. I like British and Scandinavian authors - you might like to try Minette Walters, Sarah Rayne, Sophie Hannah, Belinda Bauer, S.J.Bolton.....Jo Nesbo, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Karin Fossum.
      Gone Girl is the one receiving all the attention right now and it was a page-turner.

      Delete
  3. I like thrillers too so I am keeping this one in mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am new to thrillers but enjoying them so far :)

      Delete
  4. Sometimes just a change is good - and I see you're right back to the classics :) Hope work starts back well for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A change is as good as a rest and all that :)
      Work is fine, it's just a shock after a lazy summer!

      Delete
  5. I don't read a lot of thrillers either, but I find them to be great to break up the usual reading. It's impressive that Haynes could reveal from the beginning that she was going to be ok, but keep a high level of suspense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will definitely be reading more in the future to break up my reading patterns. I think the suspense stayed as Cathy was so obviously damaged from whatever happened.

      Delete
  6. Sam, not sure if you are aware of this but your blog has a "no-reply blogger setting currently." i can never reply by email to comments you leave me. you can go into settings/comments to enable people to respond to your comments by email if you wish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Diane, I'll see if I can change it :)

      Delete
  7. I have to be in such a specific mood for thrillers (and it strikes me rarely). I'm glad this one was a good escape from reality read for you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like psychological thrillers and I am sure I will wnjoy this book. You've given a brilliant review too to whet my appetite. Thanks, Sam.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Alas, sometimes a good story is just a good story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This definitely sounds like a creepy psychological thriller. Which means I may just tbr it :) I really liked The Collector, and this book appears to go even a bit further... good to know that Before I Go to Sleep is also a good read!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really enjoyed this book it was a great thriller and unfortunately, I thought after this one she lost it a bit. The second was less good (at least for me) and I heard the third is not great either. But this one is worth a read for a good chilling story!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I very much enjoyed the suspenseful story of an unfortunate girl who found herself in front of a murderer. Read this amazing book.
    I like this site :: Painting Sacramento Company

    ReplyDelete