I noticed in Entertainment Weekly last week that "Gone Girl" was number one on the Hardcover Best-Seller list. Rock on cool girl. As a result of my total love affair with Flynn's latest novel, I decided that it would be a crime if I didn't go back and see what other kinds of awesome this lady had created prior to The Book That Would Change Her Life.
Synopsis: As part career-development, part therapy, Camille Preaker has been sent back to her small home town of Wind Gap MO to investigate and report on the murder of two pre-teen girls for her second rate Chicago newspaper. Camille isn't so sure this is a good idea, however. She has just been released from a psychiatric hospital because of her depression and compulsive cutting, and in her heart, feels she owes it all to the demons that wait for her at the childhood home she is now facing for the first time in many years. Just some of the fun waiting for her includes an emotionally absent step-father, a hysterical and hateful social-climbing mother, a disturbed half-sister, and a town full of men who remember a promiscuous Camille.
Once she rolls into town and starts looking into these two seemingly related deaths (both of the girls' teeth were pulled out of their mouths post-mortem), she joins forces with a profiler with Kansas City who also just happens to be quite handsome. As she begins navigating the small-town politics, the insidious alcoholism, and dysfunctional, evil undercurrents, Camille is afraid that if she doesn't get out soon, the town may suck her in and take her down for good.
My thoughts: For a debut novel, this baby has some teeth. It doesn't quite provoke insanity on the reader's part like "Gone Girl", but it is very dark and carries with it a sinister creepiness that you just can't put your finger on. You walk into Wind Gap with Camille and a chill goes down your spine, and things don't feel quite right. Everything is off by a step or two.
Unlike "Gone Girl", where you hate everyone indiscriminately, you can get behind Camille. The girl is seriously troubled, but you soon understand WHY. And before you realize it, you find yourself praying that Camille just gets the hell out. Just run, Camille. Nothing good is going to come from this.
Flynn has an incredible way with descriptions. I would stop my friends and my husband, and read snippets to them, and gesticulate like a crazy woman saying "Isn't that just brilliant??". Here are a couple of examples. See if this doesn't say it all:
"I was hoping Betsy Nash would disappear. Literally. She was so insubstantial, I could imagine her slowly evaporating, leaving only a sticky spot on the edge of the sofa."
"The pretty girl might do all right. But the piggy middle child, who now waddled dazedly into the room, was destined for needy sex and snack-cake bingeing. The boy was the type who'd end up drinking in gas-station parking lots."
Who describes people like this? As soon as I read both of these descriptions, I knew exactly what she was talking about. Not only did her characters feel like real flesh and blood and ready to materialize before your eyes, but the mystery itself was intriguing as well.
So she does throw twists in here, but they are not complex ones. And you can kinda see them coming, if I were to be honest. It doesn't lessen the sick feeling in your stomach when it all goes down, but you can get your head around it.
This is definitely a worthy read for any newly-minted Flynn fans. Very fast-paced and easy to read as well.
4.5 out of 5 stars