Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Having not read Flynn’s first book, Sharp Objects, but after hearing so much praise for it, I decided to give Dark Places a try. I was not disappointed.
It’s the story of a young girl, Libby, who is seven years old when her mother and sisters are brutally murdered. Libby’s testimony puts her brother away for the murders. Years later Libby meets up with a “true crime” fan group called the Kill Club, hoping to make some extra cash by making an appearance and selling some personal items because the trust fund she’s been living off of is almost dry. Libby discovers members of the group believe her brother is innocent and she decides to still try to cash in on their beliefs by investicating the case further and arranging to meet with people from her past who may have been involved in some way.
Told in present and past scenes, the book switches between Libby in the present, and her Mom and Brother in the past. The chapters told from the point of view of her family members all take place on the day of the tragedy leading up to it and finally coming to a climax and revealing who really committed the crime. The imagery here is very disturbing at times, but the strong prose can’t be beat.
I used to love good mysteries before they became so predictable and stereotyped, so it was nice to read a “non-detective” mystery here. The book is also told in first and third person, which can be a bit odd to follow in some books, but the author pulled it off perfectly here by naming each chapter after the person who is telling that part of the story.
Libby herself is so dark and disturbing (the title comes from the dark place that memories of the murders take her to). I felt sorry for her in some places because of the emotional wreck she is, and at other times I just wanted to hate her and thought she was so screwed up. But it was a good hate, like some oddball character only Flannery O’Connor would have given birth too. You want to hate her, but you root for her at the same time.
Her family wasn’t much better before their deaths. They were poor. Her parents were separated. Her dad was a dead beat drunk. This family was ultimately set up for failure and it just didn’t get any better. And unfortunately, Libby has had to carry this “dark” past her whole life, and it still haunts her.
I definitely look forward to more from Flynn and will be recommending this book for a while to come. If you enjoy a good “adult mystery,” laced with dark humor and emotion, then you will like Dark Places.