10 June 2013

Human Remains; Elizabeth Haynes

Human RemainsHuman Remains by Elizabeth Haynes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After suffering sophomore slump, Ms. Haynes bounces back - not as high as Into the Darkest Corner, but still a far better book than Dark Tide. She's also abandoned the present day/backstory format in favor of multiple points-of-view, mostly two characters but with some thoughts from the recently dead. And instead of stalking, we have a serial... killer? death facilitator? euthanasia enthusiast?

There's no real spoiler here, as Colin's oddness and affinity for helping desperate people find their way to the right solution is state pretty much up front. How he does it is a little odd: there's some hypnosis involved, with phone follow-ups. We never get a definite "plan", but this is definitely in the creepy arena. His motivation isn't altruistic, however, it's far grosser than that.

Annabelle, like Colin, is a loner and not particularly social. Her life seems split between work (she's a civilian analyst for the police), taking care of her virtually housebound mother, and her cat, Lucy. Those three, coupled with her finding her next-door neighbor's body well past it's sellby date, seem to be the impetus for her doing some research and finding a pattern of bodies, decomposed, seemingly dead of natural causes. In previous years there were a few (11 max), but this year? 24 and rising.

Will the police catch Colin? Is what he's done illegal, or simply creepy/immoral? The question is also raised about how well we know and take care of our neighbors: if you don't see someone for a period of days, do you assume they're dead, or that they're busy, or on vacation, or have moved? How does our society help, or further isolate, the depressed? Interesting questions.

ARC provided by publisher.

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