Human Remains is a story about the absence of relationships. As Haynes, whose profession is that of police statistics analyst, explains it herself:
Having written two books ... about relationships,I wanted to explore what happens ... in the absence of them; so Human Remains is about people who are ... living an isolated existence without social contact. (Haynes)
There are two narrator who give a picture of events from their own perspectives. The two narrators are (1) Annabel, a civilian police statics analyst who finds it difficult to convince the police force to take her analyses seriously, and (2) Colin, a man in pursuit of academic credentials who finds it very difficult to socialize.
after finding something that was potentially interesting, trying to persuade the senior management that my recommendations were worth following up was often a battle. (Annabel)
The story begins with Annabel, the police analyst, complaining about the difficulties of her job and discovering that the neighbor whom she thought had moved was actually laying dead in her home. This discovery sends Annabel back to her statistics analysis because she believes there is a thread running through the daily police reports that show an increase of single people dying alone, unnoticed, in their homes and going unmissed because of their own social isolation.
Meanwhile, Colin focuses on his problem of how to meet women and comes upon a new strategy that eventually links Coin and Annabel in the home-deaths, which begin to look a lot like home-murders.
Journalist Sam Everett works against Colin and for Annabel by taking an interest in the growing number of these murders of socially isolated people who are found decomposing in various stages of death alone in their homes. Giving voice to the victims and keeping a veil of mystery over Colin's activities while allowing details to come out about the deaths as they are found gives a unique perspective to events as they unfold.