Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: 'Behind Closed Doors' by Elizabeth Haynes

People often commit unspeakable acts in secret, since they assume that no one knows what goes on "Behind Closed Doors" (Elizabeth Haynes's latest thriller) aside from the abusers and their victims. The author tells the heartbreaking story of fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford, who lives in England with her family. In 2003, Scarlett is on holiday in Rhodes with her parents and thirteen-year-old sister, Juliette. By chance, Scarlett meets a good-looking boy, Nico, and develops a crush on him. She soon fantasizes about running away with Nico (Scarlett loathes her parents), but is reluctant to abandon the emotionally fragile Juliette. Still, she cannot help but dream of a new and happier life than the one she has now.

Sadly, our heroine's naiveté with men proves costly. She is abducted and, along with other girls caught up in the net, is forced to do her captors' bidding. After her parents report their daughter's disappearance to the authorities, DCI Louisa Smith and her team of investigators try to pick up Scarlett's trail. Meanwhile, in spite of the humiliation and degradation that she suffers, Scarlett tries to keep her wits about her. Haynes provides relief from all this misery by inserting an engrossing subplot about Lou and her boyfriend Jason Mercer, a police intelligence analyst. We also learn a bit more about the conscientious DS Sam Hollands, whose memories of a past relationship haunt her during this case.

"Behind Closed Doors" is a suspenseful, involving, and hard-hitting work of fiction that goes back and forth in time and shows events from various perspectives. The portrait of Scarlett is particularly strong; she is courageous and daring, but her impulsiveness and poor judgment land her in deep trouble. There are a number of loathsome villains in this novel, but we do not learn the full extent of their malevolence until the shocking conclusion. Haynes touches on timely and troubling issues, making us wonder: How can we stop the scourge of human trafficking? Can individuals who have been cruelly exploited ever recover? Elizabeth Haynes avoids tying up her plot too neatly. Instead, she offers a disturbing glimpse of how depraved individuals, for pleasure and profit, subjugate vulnerable young women.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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