Into the Darkest Corner is a psychological thriller told in chapters which alternate between the past (2003-2004) and the present (2007-2008). In the past, Catherine Bailey meets the charming and very sexy, Lee. As their relationship intensifies, so does Lee’s creepy and abusive behavior. Things culminate with Lee being sent to jail. In the present, Cathy has developed a severe case of OCD and cannot shake her fear of Lee, even though he is in jail. As Cathy starts taking some steps towards healing, she finds out Lee has been released from jail and his mind games begin once again.
Every now and then I get on a psychological thriller kick. These things are like crack to me, as I CANNOT put them down (if I keep reading the scary will end, it will, it will) and they give me such a rush that I want to read them back to back to back. I spent last fall reading thriller after thriller after thriller until I was sort of worn out of all the rape, death, and seriously creepy dudes. This marks my first trip back to the genre and I have to say, this was pretty enjoyable.
The alternating timelines were really effective for this story. As the tensions were escalating in the past, the present was very calm, which really increased the sense of foreboding. Also, I felt that increased terror you get when you know something bad is going to happen. Knowing the ending of the first timeline going in (the second chapter is court transcripts from Lee’s trial) made all the initial encounters with the sexy good-times Lee all the more disturbing and suspenseful. Towards the end of the book, however, the strict alternation between the two timelines stops, which was a little confusing, but not terribly disruptive. Also, the very start of the book is a bit disorienting and confusing (it takes a few chapters to introduce Cathy and that totally threw me, no knowing who I was following) and did not immediately grip me. That said, once I got into the real meat of the story, I had a hard time putting this one down!
Cathy was an interesting and strong character, at least in the present. I liked that her mental illness was treated with sensitivity and the acknowledgement that she needed professional help to deal with a disorder which had taken over her life. I also liked that Cathy was pretty smart and, despite the fact that everyone around her denied Lee’s abuse, she (eventually) learned to stick to her guns and not lose it completely. It was also great to see Cathy transform from a victim to a surprisingly strong and confident fighter-back. Cathy also begins a healthy romantic relationship with her neighbor, Stuart, and that also seemed to be pretty realistically portrayed. Although, Stuart has to the be the most patient and forgiving man on the planet to put up with some of Cathy’s OCD behaviors/fears. Overall, I really liked the Cathy character and I found myself siding with her so much that I began to wonder if she would turn out to be an unreliable narrator and my good impressions of her would be dashed (she isn’t, so don’t worry about that).
If you are in the mood to abandon yourself to a thriller, I’d recommend this one. It’s creepy and suspenseful with a likeable main character whose trauma affects her realistically, but doesn’t stop her in her tracks.