I bought this book when at the successful Dark and Stormy event run by Myriad with authors Lesley Thomson, Lisa Cutts and Elizabeth Haynes at Brighton earlier in the year. It was an excellent session, with all the authors articulate and informative on all aspects of crime writing. I came away with Lesley Thomson’s latest book and this offering by Elizabeth Haynes.
Genevieve has finally escaped the stressful and dangerous demands of her work – sales executive by day, pole dancer by night – and achieved her dream: to get out of London and start a new life aboard a houseboat in Kent. But on the night of her boat-warming party a body washes up beside the vessel and Genevieve recognises the victim. With her life on the line and the sanctuary of the boatyard brutally shattered, Genevieve is about to discover the real cost of mixing business with pleasure.
This is an interestingly different read from the usual run of crime whodunits I normally read. For starters, the protagonist isn’t that close to the victim, or filled with a burning desire to discover who did it. Nevertheless, the murder triggers a host of recollections that she has managed to push to the back of her head, while engrossed in ‘living the dream’. Trouble is, she took some short cuts to get the dream and they are starting to bite back…
This book is a study of people who all break the rules, one way or another… Not a single person in the book plays it absolutely straight – particularly the protagonist. In fact, she’s one of those people who create a maelstrom around her, attracting all sorts of attention and trouble and leaving a trail of trouble in her wake. Haynes could have credibly written this book making her the villain in fact. Which is one of the main strengths of this grown up, edgy thriller – no one is painted as the pantomime baddie. It is all so plausible and easily explainable – from having a good time with some friends in a club, to deciding to have a go at pole dancing, to agreeing to lap dance with the clients to… and so it goes. And neither is Haynes crass enough to go wagging a finger in our faces. But the consequences of spending a lot of time with people who don’t respect the law or anyone else very much, rubs off on those around them. The ones there for the money, for whatever reason, do not walk away unchanged… I also liked the fact that although it is reasonably gritty, Haynes doesn’t see fit to turn it into a gore-fest to prove her ‘realistic’ credentials.
Haynes has a fluent, readable style that immediately pulled me into the story and I zipped through it in a couple of greedy gulps. Nevertheless, it is style that is memorable, although I’ve read a couple of other books, since, Genevieve’s adventures keep popping into my head. If you haven’t come across Haynes’ writing and you are a fan of real-world thrillers that don’t see fit to tip into a black and white version of the world, then look out for this book. It is a classy, interesting additional to this crowded genre that is worth hunting down.