This October, as the book industry starts releasing its biggest titles into the trade, we have a Book of the Month to get excited about. Never Alone, by crime writer and police analyst Elizabeth Haynes, promises to thrill fans of the genre just as much as her bestselling debut Into the Darkest Corner did, as it returns to many of the same themes.
Described by publisher Myriad Editions as ‘rural noir’, Never Alone takes place in an isolated farmhouse on the Yorkshire moors. Even as a concept this offers plenty of atmosphere and chill, and Haynes really follows through. Her protagonist, Sarah Carpenter, lives alone in the farmhouse, which she bought after her husband died and her children left for university. It is her dream home, and isolated as it is, she never feels lonely; she is used to the way the house creaks and she has her dogs for protection. Then there is Aiden, an old friend of her late husband, who has just moved back to the UK and is looking for a place to stay.
When Sarah offers Aiden a room in the farmhouse, her children and best friend Sophie are suspicious of his motives. Even her son’s friend Will is worried and keeps turning up at the house to check on her. Her safety is further jeopardised when the weather closes in and a snow storm isolates Sarah, cutting her off from the rest of the world. When Sophie goes missing suddenly, Sarah starts to worry. Soon after that, Aiden disappears too. We know someone is watching Sarah, and before long she finds herself in serious danger, having to fight for her life as her stalker closes in.
Never Alone has all the makings of a bestselling psychological thriller. It is incredibly chilling and compulsive; as we become ever more aware of the danger Sarah is in, the isolation of her home and her desolation make the novel immensely addictive. Haynes has managed to make the book about far more than its plot, however – it is also a novel about hope, fear and love and the lengths we will go to in their presence.
It comes as no surprise that Haynes has hit the mark with this one. She is widely regarded as a major star in the crime and thriller worlds with an enormous fanbase. Her debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, was an instant bestseller in 2011 with film rights optioned by Revolution Films and foreign rights sold in 37 territories. It put Haynes on many CWA Dagger Award shortlists and made her the recipient of Amazon’s Rising Stars Award. Reviews were consistently excellent, with author Karin Slaughter calling the book “An obsessive thriller”, The Guardian “gripping”, and SJ Watson “Utterly unputdownable.” Bestselling author Sophie Hannah wrote of Haynes: “[Her] stories grip you by the throat and force you to acknowledge that this is what real crime and real horror look and feel like… Haynes is the most exciting thing to happen to crime fiction in a long time.”
Never Alone absolutely lives up to Hannah’s quote, and it’s the perfect read as the nights draw in. We can expect it to do very well over the coming months, and stand alongside other major releases in the run up to Christmas.
Never Alone is published on 6 October by Myriad Editions (paperback, 352pp, £8.99, 9781908434968)