Have you noticed that all of Gillian Flynn's novels have two-word titles? Dark Places. Gone Girl. Sharp Objects. Gotta love a writer with that kind of attention to detail.
I devoured Gone Girl over the summer in a matter of days; I read it before bedtime (and sufficiently creeped myself out), by the pool, on the couch . . . I couldn't put it down. Apparently I didn't write a review about it, though. Just go read it. Or you can wait for the movie this October. Or do both.
So when I checked out Dark Places, I knew I was in for a thriller with all kinds of twists and turns, since Flynn is now becoming well-known for producing compelling mysteries with a touch of the grotesque and absurd.
Dark Places opens with a nursery rhyme about a little girl whose Satanic brother killed her sisters and her mother--yet the young seven-year-old child manages to escape alive. Fast-forward twenty-five years, and we meet that little girl: Libby Day, our unlikable protagonist. She is mean, sharp and hateful, and she likes being that way. Libby has also benefited from the sympathy of the general public over the years, but now, her funds have run out. She considers getting a job (and then basically considers suicide at the thought of a desk job), until she discovers an unusual group called the Kill Club, comprised of amateur investigators obsessed with various famous murders--such as the Day family. Libby meets with the group in order to pay her bills, a few hundred dollars for an old note from her dead sister. The group is convinced that Libby's brother is innocent,despite his life sentence in jail, and they believe that the murder remains to be solved.
Libby could care less what they all think; she knows her brother did it. Or does she? Her sense of certainty slowly unravels as the Kill Club points her in different directions, opening up all kinds of angles about the brother and mother she thought she knew, and that terrible night so long ago.
As readers, we dive back and forth between three points of view--Libby, Patty (her mother) and Ben (her brother)--spanning the present moment and the days surrounding the murders. I really love this type of narrative structure because it's hard to find a good stopping point; you know that the next chapter holds more crucial information and your eyes want to run across the pages just to discover the missing links in the story. Though I predicted certain parts of the ending, I appreciated Flynn's ability to surprise and insistence on the concept that it's impossible to fully know the people you love--even your family.
AND I just learned that Dark Places is also going to be a film with Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Christina Hendricks. Awesome.
Now we all need to read Sharp Objects to round out Flynn's repertoire.