Book Review: Human Remains – Elizabeth Haynes

Human Remains cover

Title: Human Remains
Author: Elizabeth Haynes
ISBN: 9780062276766
Pages: 464
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5


Annabel is a police analyst, so you’d think she knows all about dead bodies. But still, she’s absolutely shocked when she stumbles upon the decomposing body of her neighbor. Even worse than the images she can’t shake, Annabel can’t help but feel that, if she died in her home, no one would even notice. But when Annabel notices a disturbing trend in the increase of decomposing bodies found, she begins to wonder if there’s something larger that might be linking these seemingly natural deaths.


Human Remains is a novel with a lot of promise: The idea that someone could be responsible for these deaths from natural causes is fascinating. And Annabel’s a great character to investigate. She sees a lot of herself in these dead women; she lives by herself, and only her mother would really miss her. Therefore, she wants to find justice for them, but she must find out if there is indeed anyone behind these heinous crimes.

The flip side of this story, the point of view of the killer, is where Human Remains starts to fall apart. A glimpse into his life, his twisted mind, might be intriguing. But it’s just difficult to find his narrative very interesting, especially when seeing his perspective removes much of the suspense from the story.

There’s also no real explanation for how the killer does what he does in Human Remains. While Annabel is sad, she’s a strong person. She might not be comfortable in her own skin, but that doesn’t lead automatically to the events that occur in the novel. It’s really hard to understand, and thus difficult to believe. I can’t discuss any further without giving away key plot points, but the bottom line is that this is a huge issue I had with the novel that was never resolved.

While I’ve really enjoyed Elizabeth Haynes’ previous novels, Human Remains just didn’t quite work for me. I loved Annabel, and would have appreciated the novel more had there been more of an investigation and less from the killer’s strange perspective. I’ll definitely keep seeking this author’s books out, but this was generally a miss for me.

Other books by Elizabeth Haynes:

Dark Tide
Into the Darkest Corner

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