About two seconds after I read "Gone Girl", as I was wallowing in Flynn's sick and twisted muck and brilliant writing, I pledged to read the rest of her books (she has two others). Yes, that book was seriously screwed up, but she has a way with a phrase that is different than anything else I'd ever read.
So I progressed to her debut novel, "Sharp Objects". Same brilliance in the turn-of-phrase department. Same disturbing subject matter.
Subconsciously, I dragged my ass on reading "Dark Places". Because that was the end of the line, until Flynn writes something else. But I was in a situation where I was sitting with no book, so I pulled it up on the Kindle app on my phone and I didn't look back.
Synopsis: Libby Day was only seven years old when her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered in their home one night. Libby walked away relatively unscathed, her fifteen-year-old brother Ben was locked up for life as the cold-blooded killer who committed the crime, thanks to Libby's muddled testimony. Libby has since existed by sucking dry a trust account established by her community who have, after 25 years, written her off for more current headlines. Then her trust runs dry, and Libby finds herself to be not only an emotionally stunted shell of a human being, but broke as well.
Just in the nick of time it seems, she is approached by a representative of something called "The Kill Club", a group of people who obsess over true crime cases. It seems they are willing to pay for anything related to the case...memorabilia, unknown facts, or even better...information pertaining to the case that might get Ben Day out of prison. It appears that many people believe him to be innocent. With nothing but greed in her heart, Libby agrees to visit Ben for the first time in 25 years. But soon, it becomes apparent that these people may be right. There may be more to her family's murders than originally thought.
My thoughts: So you must know that if you have ever read any of Flynn's books, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is an underlying mystery here...what really happened 25 years ago? Did Ben Day really kill his family? What about the drug-dealing deadbeat dad with anger issues? Or the devil worshipers that were out killing cattle? The slow reveal of the true events of this night is complicated and layered and terrifying. But that is not all that is going on here. Oh no.
Libby is damaged. She admits it. She knows something is broken inside her, and she makes no excuses. As you read her narrative, you feel uncomfortable and a little skeezed out...she is not a nice person. The skeezy feeling doesn't stop with Libby either. Flynn delivers a whole platter of humanity's ugliest examples. But unlike "Gone Girl", where you'd prefer to throw the whole cast of characters into a trash pit and let them eat each other, some of the folks in this book actual start to take a human form. Flynn gives them a voice...we hear from not only Libby, but her mother and her brother, and get some insight into what actually went down in that farmhouse 25 years ago. I felt my heart beginning to thaw, towards a few of them anyway.
Flynn's brilliant phrasing doesn't disappoint. It is dark and oily, but strangely conversational as well, that makes it nearly impossible to put the book down.
I might even go out on a limb and say this could be my favorite of her three books. Because Flynn gives us a solid dose of horror, but you don't finish the book feeling ill. You are allowed a tiny ray of hope.
5 out of 5 stars