Checking locks is one of main character Catherine Bailey's primary concerns. She does so dozens of times per day, to the point that it can be diagnosed as a form of OCD. Checking to be sure doors and windows are safely secured sometimes threatens to take over Cathy's life. It's an obsession that causes significant problems for her; she is often late to work and unable to go out socially as a result of her growing anxieties and need to check and re-check her efforts.
Haynes dates the entries in Into the Darkest Corner, helping the reader make the frequent jumps between time periods in Cathy's life. In a dozen pages, the plot might switch (time-wise) as many as half-a-dozen times. Despite this seemingly disruptive method of storytelling, the novel flows seamlessly. The reader follows Cathy both in 2003 and in 2007 as she goes about her daily life. The ongoing comparisons between the two time periods cause a dramatic contrast between the Cathy of "then" and the Cathy of "now" to emerge.
"Then" Cathy loved to go out at night and party with friends until all hours of the morning. "Now" Cathy has virtually no friends and has a near-anxiety attack while simply contemplating attending her office Christmas party. Haynes does an excellent job of drawing out the suspense for the reader; although the story fairly quickly begins to take shape, details and plot twists occur at every turn of the page. The events that unfold between the two periods of time answer the questions of how and why Cathy underwent such a marked change.
As a result of Haynes's expert writing abilities, Into the Darkest Corner is a page-turner of the highest caliber. I was on the edge of my seat until the very last page -- and am even still, as the novel features an ending that doesn't quite wrap up all the loose ends.
Into the Darkest Corner is Elizabeth Haynes's first novel. The book was released in the United Kingdom last year to high acclaim; among its honors was earning the Amazon UK Best Book of 2011. Her second novel, Revenge of the Tide, was released in March 2012 in the UK, and we can only hope soon here in the U.S.! To learn more about Haynes, you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, add her on Facebook, or read her blog.