Behind Closed Doors,
by Elizabeth Haynes, brings back the Major Crime detective
team headed by DCI Louisa Smith. As in all of Haynes' books,
she explores hard-hitting themes where the main character
tries to gain control over her life. This police procedural
deals with the subject of human trafficking, as the author
looks at the dark side of humanity.
The story starts with the abduction of fifteen-year-old Scarlett
Rainsford while she is on vacation with her parents and sister
on the Greek island of Rhodes. Unlike characters in Haynes'
previous books, Scarlett is not perceived as a sympathetic
figure from the very beginning of the novel, mostly because
she is seen as a teenager who pushes the boundaries set up
by her parents. However, as the story progresses, so does
the readers' empathy for this main character. This is due
to Haynes' ability to write in a very intense way the level
of horrific violence Scarlett was made to go through emotionally
and physically. The story alternates between then and now
when Louisa, a rookie detective, became involved in the 2003
case. In present day, 2013, after Scarlett is found alive
in a police raid, the detective's first priority is unraveling
what happened to Scarlett.
Louisa is a dedicated officer, a workaholic who is top-notch
in her professional career, but is unable to handle a personal
relationship. She does not have an on/off switch to balance
the two parts of her life. Her romantic interest, Jason, is
a nurturing and supportive companion who attempts to have
Louisa break down her barrier. Another character who returns
is detective Sam Hollands, whose professional life is explored.
This includes answering: How far should someone go to help?
And what are the limitations they must place upon themselves?
The emphasis on these police procedurals is that the perpetrator
can only be found and a conviction secured with skillful teamwork.
There is no crusading detective who is able to solve the case
on their own. As with the military, the team becomes more
of a secondary family, where members rely on one another for
protection -- a very intense trust based relationship.
As with the previous book, intelligence reports and witness
statements are embedded into the story. This adds to the realism
of the police's actual duties. Anyone who might find it a
distraction can skip them without losing anything in regard
to the storyline.
The author gave a shout out to a book she read, Bought &
Sold, by Megan Stephens, which influenced the plot. "The
parallels between Scarlett's fictional story and Megan's true
one have once again given me cause to stop and think about
what I'm doing here, writing books which, let's face it, are
for entertainment purposes, about horrors that for many people
are very real. Both are stories of how teenagers were trafficked
into the sex industry and spent years as prostitutes before
finally escaping. My intention in writing stories like this
is to challenge people who may otherwise not think about things
that are going on right now, not just in far away parts of
the world but right here, in prosperous modern European and
American cities; places that we think of as safe, where women
experience equality, freedom and protection from the legal
system. My intention with telling Scarlett's story is to show
the sadistic violence she endured but also that this subject
is so easily ignored."
Haynes gave a heads up about her next couple of books. The
first is a stand-alone involving Sarah, a working mom who
lives in the countryside of England. She is alone since her
children are in college and her husband has died. Just as
moms with empty-nest syndrome, she has a disruption of her
lifestyle. The author describes the book as a psychological
thriller, as Sarah attempts to remake her life and search
for her identity while suffering an immense trauma.
Her other book is a third in the police procedural series.
As Jason and "Lou" become more involved, he falls
under suspicion in a murder case. Because of the conflict
of interest, Lou is removed and Sam takes over Major Crimes.
Haynes is thinking of exploring what happens if a strong woman
whose life centers on work finds herself unexpectantly pregnant.
In addition, she is thinking of bringing her beloved characters,
Cathy and Scarlett, back in cameo roles. Fans should hope
that Harper resigns her to a new contract because both books
appear to be a must read.
Each novel of Haynes covers the difficulties a victim has
in bringing the perpetrators to justice and is a must read.
Mainstays of all of her novels, including the latest,
Behind Closed Doors, are intense, emotional, and harrowing