” Because of the phone call we can be reasonably sure now that someone or something is behind all this. I’m thinking that all these people had something done to them to force them to do this, something that has overridden their human instincts in some way. ” (Annabel, p.183)
Compared to the fast-paced, up-my-throat Into the Darkest Corner, Human Remains is a slow-churned mystery—in other word, a slight disappointment. It concerns Annabel Hayer, a police analyst whose work and the caring of her aging mother keep her bus. A rather private person who keeps to herself, Annabel one day is ruffled by a bad smell coming from her yard. Following the smell, she discovers her neighbor’s decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled that nobody, herself included, noticed the woman’s absence. But the decomposed, putrefied body of Shelley Burton only marks the beginning of an unusual wave of discovery of bodies, all in the comforts of their homes in a state of decomposition.
If anything, my input is cathartic; it’s a merciful release. They would have killed themselves sooner or later, and my method is infinitely less painful, and possibly less messy. I haven’t harmed anyone. I merely crystallized their thoughts, prompted them into action that might otherwise have been a long time coming, during which they would have suffered and lingered and probably taken several other people down with them. (Colin, p.146)
People who were found dead were all defeated by life. They were seeking an outlet to their pain and agony. Nobody cared or missed them. When the tension mounts and the number of decomposed bodies becomes alarming, Annabel sets out to investigate despite her colleagues’ lack of interest. Interwoven in the investigation of Annabel and haunted the pages are insights into the lives of these “victims.” The perpetrator, or, more like savior to these people’s agonies, also plays a part in the narrative. Colin, repellent and disturbed, feels extreme contempt for people. He is more than fascinated with decomposition, and has devoted a significant amount of time studying power of suggestion and mind control. His narrative is often engaging reader in conversation.
The book is not so much about murder as is self-harm, or inducing, abetting self-harm. However, Human Remains does go to great lengths to make reader ponder the difference. It’s the study of intense depression and feelings of hopelessness—the trip into the mental process of a deeply disturbed sociopath. When Colin and Annabel do cross path, one will not be as horrified because the pacing and repetition have already compromised what was meant to be suspenseful.
438 pp. Harper. Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]