Human Remains is a deeply disturbing and powerful psychological thriller that will have you checking the locks on your doors and windows.
When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.
Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared?
Michelle’s Review – 5 Skulls – A+
This book is so disturbing. I hated what it did to me, how it made me think, made me question how I treat others, question my own motives, and question my relationship with my family. I hated how I was so deeply embedded in the mind of a narcissistic sociopath that I could predict his reactions. What does that say about me when I know how a sociopath is going to react (or in this case, not react)? It says nothing about me, and everything about the author and her brilliant writing. Haynes is a master at creating memorable characters in a terrifying but thought provoking story.
Human Remains is NOT for everyone. It is NOT a happy story with happy characters. In fact, it is gloomy, sad, and has a character that is now at the top of my “Most Evil” list. In addition, the protagonist, Annabel, is insecure, oblivious, not always the nicest to those around her, and a bit of a bore. As a reader, you often want to scream at Annabel for her actions, or tell her how stupid she is being for her reactions to others.
The story is told from two main points of view and additional points of view from minor characters that play a role in the story moving forward (it’s hard to tell you anything about these “minor” characters without spoiling it). While I would usually say this is too many perspectives, once you catch on to the story, you know exactly why the author is doing the multiple points of view and how brilliantly Haynes set this book up for the reader.
Main Point of View # 1- Annabel:
Getting inside Annabel’s head was absolutely essential to understand her insecurities, and her decisions (or lack thereof). While initially, it was so hard to cheer for her, especially when she was being mean to another character that was trying to help her, you learn so much about why she acts the way she does based on knowing what is going on in her head.
There is a turning point for Annabel. It wasn’t an earth shattering moment but you, as the reader, applaud what happens to Annabel and how she transitions beyond what is expected of her.
Main Point of View # 2- Colin:
The other main point of view belongs to Colin. Holy crap. Seriously. This is where I face a real problem with this review. I knew nothing about the story and had no clue what to expect with Colin. Was he a love interest for Annabel? Why is he important? Why do I care? This was my thoughts at the beginning, and frankly, at the beginning, I was stumped at why I should care about Colin’s thoughts. Trust me, not knowing what Colin’s significance is in the story, makes the book 10 times more enjoyable when you learn what he is doing and what he truly is. Ok, so that was so fricking cryptic but oh well. I’m not going to ruin this story for you. Just trust me, Colin is someone I will never forget.
Ok, I have to tell you a little bit. You probably guessed he is the narcissistic, sociopath I mentioned above (that is really my own completely unprofessional diagnosis). Colin is someone that you must pay attention to, not because of what he is saying or doing, or reacting to, but what he is not saying, and not reacting to. Being in Colin’s head was so normal, so uneventful. So boring. However, once you leave Colin’s head and see Colin’s actions from another point of view, you see an entirely new picture of Colin. That is what makes the switching point of views so perfect. You really see how twisted Colin is by seeing the world through Colin’s head and how normal and eventual Colin thinks his actions are and then seeing what Colin is actually doing when you switch views.
What happens to the war refugee that goes from a school teacher with her own friends in her own country, to a manual laborer with no one in her refugee country? She ceases to exist.
What happens to the wife of a sex molester who really had no clue what was going on, when all her friends and family have shunned her for being blind to her husband’s criminal acts? She ceases to exist.
What happens to the husband that drinks away his broken marriage? He ceases to exist.
What happens to the girl who is insecure, and loses her only family member? Does she cease to exist? That’s the story, that’s Annabel’s story.
What happens to the guy who thinks he has the answer to the non existing living? He terrifies you.
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