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Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes - Excerpt

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes - Excerpt

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Published by HarperPerennial
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes returns with a disturbing and powerful tale that preys on our darkest fears.

Police analyst Annabel wouldn't describe herself as lonely. Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbor's decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the woman's absence. Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleagues' lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.

A chilling thriller and a hymn to all the lonely people whose individual voices haunt its pages, Human Remains shows how vulnerable we are when we live alone, and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes returns with a disturbing and powerful tale that preys on our darkest fears.

Police analyst Annabel wouldn't describe herself as lonely. Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbor's decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the woman's absence. Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleagues' lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.

A chilling thriller and a hymn to all the lonely people whose individual voices haunt its pages, Human Remains shows how vulnerable we are when we live alone, and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.

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Published by: HarperPerennial on Jul 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/14/2013

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Annabel
W
hen I got home I could smell the trash cans on the cold air,a aint bad smell that made me wrinkle my nose.Inside, I opened the back door, rattling the box o catbiscuits in the hope that it would bring her scurrying. It wasa clear night, so she would most likely not make an appear-ance at the back door until I was in the bath, when she wouldhowl and scratch to be let in. Despite the cat ap and myeorts to get her to use it—propping it open, coaxing her,bribing her, and even shoving her orceully through it—sheignored it and came in and out only when I was home toopen the door or her. I’d even tried getting rid o the litterbox, but she’d just piss on the lino in the kitchen and thenpull it up at the corner with her claws to try and cover herexcretions. Ater that I gave up.I stood in the doorway or a ew minutes. “Lucy?” I calledexperimentally. “Lucy!”Nothing. The bloody cat could stay out there all night Ithought, knowing or a act that I would be down here in mybath towel in a couple o hours’ time, dripping wet and reez-ing, rattling the cat treats while she sat on the lawn andstared at me, punishing me or having taken too long.I made mysel a cup o peppermint tea and some cheeseon toast, and ate it sitting at the kitchen table with one eyeon the open door in case the cat might walk in and I couldshut it and trap her inside. When I fnished it, I scraped the
 
Elizabeth Haynes2
crusts o the toast into the kitchen trash, snifng. Somethingdefnitely smelled bad. The last time I smelled somethingthis rotten, the cat had brought in a rog and I hadn’t real-ized until I ound ithal-slimy, hal-dried—under the dresser in the dining room, right in the back. I’d had to get on myhands and knees with a wad o paper towels and rubbergloves to get rid o it.I stood in the doorway again, wondering i Lucy had killeda pigeon this time and let it by the trash cans, not trustingme to dispose o it appropriately. I put on my slippers, took myashlight rom the drawer, and ventured down the steps intothe darkness, listening to the sound o the trafc rom the mainroad beyond the trees. In the alleyway between my houseand next door, I lited the lid o each o the two trash cans:the black one, and the green one or compost. Both smelledunpleasant, but that wasn’t it. I shone the ashlight aroundthe base o the cans. No pigeon, no rat—nothing dead.The house next door was unoccupied, had been or sometime, but as I stood there I realized I could see a light com-ing rom inside. It was a dim golden light, as though a singlebulb shone in a room somewhere inside, undisturbed.I tried to remember when I’d last been out here. Sundayaternoon? But it had been broad daylight, sunny, and eveni the light had been on next door then I wouldn’t have no-ticed it. Maybe a realtor had been in, or a property developer,and let it on?When I frst moved in, a couple had been living next door.I ought or the memory. What was she called? Shelley, thatwas it. She’d introduced hersel to me once. It had been sum-mer, a hot day. I was just getting home and she was workingin the ront yard. She stopped me or a chat even though itwas the last thing I wanted. Tired, ed up as usual, all I longed

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