Annalise Hulse's Reviews > Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
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Aug 15, 2012

it was amazing
Read from August 14 to 15, 2012

Catherine Bailey has been enjoying the single life long enough to know a catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic and spontaneous, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell.

But what begins as flattering attentiveness and passionate sex turns into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon learns there is a darker side to Lee. His increasingly erratic, controlling behaviour becomes frightening, but no one believes her when she shares her fears. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine--now Cathy--compulsively checks the locks and doors in her apartment, trusting no one. But when an attractive upstairs neighbour, Stuart, comes into her life, Cathy dares to hope that happiness and love may still be possible . . . until she receives a phone call informing her of Lee's impending release. Soon after, Cathy thinks she catches a glimpse of the former best friend who testified against her in the trial; she begins to return home to find objects subtly rearranged in her apartment, one of Lee's old tricks. Convinced she is back in her former lover's sights, Cathy prepares to wrestle with the demons of her past for the last time.

(GOODREADS)

I really do seem to be on a mission to traumatise myself at the moment. Hot on the heels of finishing Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door, I moved onto this, and although it wasn't quite as horrific, it wasn't far behind. Probably yet again because when I was reading it, I was constantly aware of the fact that there are women out there right now going through shit like this. I've seem some reviews of this book critcising it for having all been done before in Enough and Sleeping with the Enemy - and those are valid points - it has been done before. But what makes this book stand out for me is that it really brings home the devastation that domestic abuse has on the victim, not just at the time but YEARS later. The book flashes between two different time frames - 2003-2004 when Catherine, the protagonist and the victim is actually enduring the horrific abuse at the hands of her deceptively charming boyfriend Lee and 2007-2008 when we see Cathy (as she's now become) struggling with post traumatic stress and obsessive compulsive disorder which dominates her life as a result of the trauma she has suffered. Although this was a little confusing at first, once I got used to it I found that this approach kept the story fresh and fast paced and made the contrast between the carefree party girl that Catherine once was and the frightened, paranoid woman she becomes even more stark. Without giving away too much of the plot, it transpires that Cathy has good reason to be paranoid. When he is released from prison, it seems that despite his 3 years of incarceration, Lee is obsessed with her as he ever was. As the novel progresses, Haynes creates such an air of tension and anticipation that I found myself jumping at shadows right along with Cathy and because of her powers of characterisation, I found myself having really strong (and quite murderous) feelings about Lee, much more than I usually have for fictional characters.
On a couple of occassions I did wonder if it is perhaps slightly exploitative to create popular fiction out of such real human suffering (of which Elizabeth Haynes must have seen plenty in her job as a police intelligence analyst) but it is an undeniably good book and I guess anything that raises awareness of domestic abuse and OCD can only be a good thing.
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