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cautionary tale about the toll
taken by domestic abuse
When domestic abuse rears its ugly head, it knows no boundaries. Rich and poor, educated and uneducated, urban and rural -- no one is immune to the insidiousness.
British author Elizabeth Haynes delivers a gripping psychological thriller that chronicles an abusive relationship, from its seemingly harmless beginning to a searing conclusion. Haynes shows the excitement of a new affair, the stunning realization that this handsome, charming new love is a vicious, violent man and the desperation that there may be no escaping him. "Into the Darkest Corner" goes another step by showing the aftereffects.
In 2003, Catherine Bailey is young, happy woman who parties nearly every night at a different club in Lancaster, England, and, yes, is sexually active. She and her tight-knit group of friends count on each other. Then Catherine falls hard for the charming Lee Brightman. But the intense relationship soon gives way to textbook abuse. Lee isolates her from her friends and controls her every moment as he grows more violent.
Four years later, Lee is in prison and Catherine is now Cathy, living in London.
But the residue of Lee's violence remains. Cathy has become an obsessive-compulsive, frightened about everything, rechecking her apartment's locks dozens of times. If she can get to work, she is almost normal, but some days her fears keep her homebound. She no longer is in contact with those old friends. Hope seems to come in the form of Stuart Richardson, a charming new tenant who also is a psychologist. Recognizing her symptoms, Stuart tries to help her recover, as the two begin to date. Then Lee gets out of prison.
Haynes smoothly alternates the action between 2003 and 2007, showing two different Catherines and how she became a panicky shadow of herself.
"Into the Darkest Corner" also shows the utter aloneness of a victim of domestic violence. At first, Catherine is too ashamed to admit Lee's physical and verbal violence. But when she does confide in her friends, they take Lee's side, refusing to believe this charming, good-looking man has anything but Catherine's best intentions, trying to settle down this former party girl. This betrayal by friends she considered her family hurts more than Lee's emotional abuse, she believes.
"Into the Darkest Corner" is a terrifying cautionary tale of modern relationships.
This review first appeared in the Sun Sentinel in Florida.