Publication Date: 31 March 2015
Format: Paperback, 496 pgs
After having read Elizabeth Haynes' Under a Silent Moon, the first installment of the Briarstone series and enjoyed it, I was very eager to read Behind Closed Doors, her next installment featuring DCI Louisa Smith and her team. I like Lou and most of all, Ms Haynes' writing style. Lou's first investigation after her promotion was one complicated case, but together with her team they had managed to close the case although what she and her subordinates had been through has left an unforgettable memory in her.
In this second installment, it turns out that the case Lou has been assigned to is even tougher than before since it involves an unresolved case she had been looking into ten years ago when she was still a DC - a missing fifteen-year-old girl by the name of Scarlett Rainsford. That unresolved case still haunts her today until she has learnt from her superior that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone.
As much as her family and the police team are glad that she's back alive and breathing, the latter thinks there's more than meets the eye. To begin with, Scarlett seems reserved and her answers are always vague; and then there are her parents whose behaviours seem odd as they don't appear to be excited over her return. Scarlett's mother even 'anticipated' that she might return at some point, as if her ten-year disappearance means nothing.
In the first installment, I mentioned I'd like to see more of DS Sam Hollands and I was glad to see her role is more significant in this second installment, as she tries to earn Scarlett's trust so that she could speak up and hopefully give some helpful information surrounding her case, after all human trafficking is a serious offence and Scarlett is one of the unfortunate victims being trafficked for sexual slavery. I was also glad to see the relationship between Lou and Jason Mercer has taken on another level in this book; though Lou is still cautious and is taking their relationship one step at a time.
Behind Closed Doors is a dark thriller to begin with, as "human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations" (Wikipedia). While this is considered to be an intense thriller, I looked at it from another perspective that aside from the intensity, it allowed me to understand more of the dark, horrendous side of what Scarlett Rainsford had gone through may very well be the true story of the trafficked victims in reality. I couldn't fathom the horror, pain and fear these victims must be experiencing. I'm hoping that through this story more people will be aware of this horrendous subject (crime) because this is so often being dismissed or disregarded. As Ms Haynes put it in her words, "There are no easy solutions, but ignorance and denial are a big part of the problem."
The ending clearly indicates there's a next case to be resolved and I can't wait for the third installment.