Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes
Crime Fiction; 496 pgs
Behind Closed Doors by Eizabeth Haynes is the author's second book in the Detective Inspector Louisa Smith series. Much like the first book in the series, Under a Silent Moon, Haynes takes the reader into the heart of a police investigation. Where this book differs, however, is in its presentation and intensity. Interspersed with the investigation is the third person narrative from young Scarlett, retelling her account of being kidnapped and her eventual return to her hometown ten years later. It is a harrowing story, one that feels all too real.
Louisa, or Lou as she is often called, is already in the middle of two other investigations (that of a 19 year old who was badly beaten and the murder of a bar owner found half buried in the woods) that may or may not be connected, when she is asked to assist with another investigation, that involving a 10 year old missing person case. Lou had been on the team initially investigating the disappearance of the 15 year old girl named Scarlett in the beginning. Scarlett disappeared while out of the country with her family on vacation. No evidence turned up, nor did the girl. Her family hadn't been especially forthcoming with information, which raised a lot of questions. Did the girl run away? Was she abducted? Or had she been killed? No one knew. At least not until Scarlett was discovered 10 years later in a brothel in Briarstone.
Interest in Scarlett is high given her ties to a human trafficking ring. The authorities would love it if she could provide them with key names and connections in order to finally bring down some major players in the industry. Only, Scarlett isn't talking. She holds her secrets close.
The reader gets a little more intimate look into the lives of two of the series' continuing characters. There is Louisa Smith, whose work is her life. She struggles with commitment issues and letting herself love. In some books, the love story lightens the overall story arch of the book, but in this case, it adds to the complicated person Louisa is and just how all consuming her work can be. I think Jason, her love interest, is a wonderful man--supportive and thoughtful. I also know that if Lou doesn't open herself more fully to him, she is going to lose him.
Then there is DS Sam Hollands who also played a prominent role in previous book. Lou trusts her and relies heavily in Sam's abilities in being able to connect with people, and with good reason. She is extremely capable. Lou assigns her to Scarlett in the hopes Sam can get Scarlett to open up about her experiences. Sam finds herself drawn to the other woman, who seems both fragile and strong at the the same time. Sam struggles internally with keeping her distance and getting too close. Haynes allows the reader to see a side of Hollands we haven't yet seen before--and may I say how much I love the character? I could easily see her as the main character in a book.
What most impressed me about Behind Closed Doors was how accurate and close to reality the novel was. I am sure the author's background as an analyst in law enforcement and her extensive research played a part in that. Scarlett's story of human trafficking is a familiar one for those who work with people who have been forced into that life, from her childhood background to the life she was forced to lead. As a parent the very idea of human trafficking chills me to the bone. I imagine it would even if I wasn't a parent. Using humans in that way . . . It's appalling and horrific. Human trafficking is very much a problem of today, and the more people become aware of it, perhaps there is a chance lives can be saved.
Scarlett is an incredibly strong woman who has been through a lot. It is hard to know whether one can trust her or not as the story continues. Why does she insist on keeping so many secrets? Is it fear? Or something else. She clearly is a victim--a survivor--and I, as the reader, could not help but feel for her and care about her. Her relationship with her family is not a good one, glimpses of which the reader gets throughout the novel.
Despite the fact that this novel stands very well on its own and does not require the reader having read the first book in the series, there are some continuing story threads which I especially liked and gave me, as the reader, a better sense of Briarstone and the community--at least the criminal side of it. Reading Behind Closed Doors made me appreciate Under a Silent Moon more (if that's possible) as a result.
As always, I enjoy being able to see the inner workings of an investigation, how seemingly random information can eventually come together to form a full picture and solve a crime. Haynes is an incredible writer who has the ability to make the minutest of information seem interesting and significant to the story. And she has a way of drawing out her characters that is both subtle and full. I have yet to be disappointed by one of her books, and this one is no different.
At almost 500 pages, I never felt the book needed less--it was just perfect. While the intensity in this novel was high, I admit there were moments I had to set it down for awhile, the darkness of it was too heavy, the reality of it too frightening. It's books like these that scare me more than any horror novel ever could because of how true to life it is. Elizabeth Haynes has officially become one of my all time favorite crime fiction writers. I hope you will give her books a try.
To learn more about Elizabeth Haynes and her books, please visit the author's website.
I hope you will check out what others had to say about Behind Closed Doors on the TLC Book Tours route!
Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. Copy of book provided by publisher for an honest review..
© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.