Sarah Carpenter lives in an isolated farmhouse in the middle of the Yorkshire moors. She has been widowed for a few years, her daughter is away at university and her estranged son has cut all ties since his father's death, so, when Aiden, an old friend from university, who also happens to be Sarah's one-that-got-away, puts a message on Facebook, asking if anyone knows of a place to stay, the cottage on her property sounds like the perfect solution. Aiden soon slots into her life, meeting her friends and family, but how well does she really know him? And in this small community, where nobody locks their doors, are people as safe as they think?
It's a realistic, gripping page-turner that leads you down the garden path, certain you know where it's heading, then leaves you desperate to race down the new track that reveals itself when you realise that you've got it all wrong. The characters are complex, multi-layered and believable, although they do seem to be rather indestructible at times, and the plot is well-crafted and spine-tingling. Despite being on a sunlounger in Lanzarote when I read it, the writing is so atmospheric that I could feel the snowflakes bouncing off my nose as I immersed myself in the chilling story !
This was my first introduction to Elizabeth Haynes' work but I'd definitely be interested in looking out for her other books. Her writing career was launched when her debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, became a word-of-mouth bestseller in 2011. She went on to publish two further psychological thrillers with independent publisher Myriad – Revenge of the Tide and Human Remains – before bringing out her police procedural series, featuring DI Louisa Smith, with Sphere. Having established the series, Haynes has returned to the genre and the publisher that first made her name, with Never Alone, described as a gripping thriller that crosses the line between erotica and crime fiction. I wouldn't go that far - there are sex scenes, largely due to the nature of Aiden's unusual career choice, but they are important elements of the plot rather than gratuitous and they aren't too full-on so you won't feel uncomfortable if erotic fiction isn't your thing. Above all, it's a great piece of crime fiction, undoubtedly made more realistic and chilling by the author's background as a former police intelligence analyst.
star rating : 4.5/5
Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.