Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

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  



17 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This one sounds a little too dark for me!

bermudaonion said...

I want to read the rest of Flynn's books after Gone Girl too. I'm glad to see the others are just as twisted. lol What does that say about me?

techeditor said...

Same with me. That is, after reading GONE GIRL, I read her first two books and think DARK PLACES may be my favorite. However, unlike you, I wasn't too crazy about SHARP OBJECTS.

It appears to me that Flynn likes deeply flawed characters with psychological problems who have dysfunctional families. In SHARP OBJECTS, it seems EVERY character has flaws and at least one phychological problem. But the main character, Camille Preaker, beats them all. It seems everything she does involves alcohol. She drinks so much that it is unbelievable she can accomplish her investigative reporting duties. But investigate she does, always one step behind her policeman friend, Richard. And boy does she drink all the while!

But the drinking isn't as bad as the cutting, I guess.

DARK PLACES, on the other hand, is every bit as good as GONE GIRL.

This book begins with a declaration by one main character that will interest you right away. There's no wait of several pages or chapters here, no wondering whether you should give up after page 50.

From there, you will learn, little by little, of an event 30 years ago. You think you see what happened until you see it from another main character's perspective. And every chapter divulges more and more information.

I see in DARK PLACES as well as Flynn's other two books that she has a definite style. That is, all three of her books grab your attention on page 1 and tell the story from different points of view while going back and forth in time.

DARK PLACES should have been the success that GONE GIRL is. But I predict that it will be recognized more now when readers of GONE GIRL become curious, as I did, to read Flynn's other books.

JoAnn said...

I've avoided Gone Girl, but this one intrigues me...

Anita said...

I had a hard time getting into this one, maybe because Libby was so skeezy. Then, bam, it hit me and I was sucked in and I absolutely couldn't put it down, I listened to the audio! I agree it is my favorite of her books, but I haven't finished Gone Girl, I'll get back to it someday.
Wonderful descriptions in your summary...so vivid!

Zibilee said...

I had a harder time with this one, and out of the three, this is my least favorite. It seemed to be moving really slowly for the first half, and then it picked up speed, and I was eager to find out what would happen next. Even though I didn't love it, it is still amazing book, and any book of Flynn's is better than most of the other books out there. Your review does capture what intrigued me about the book, and you are absolutely right that the book does leave you with a sense of hope. Very nice review today!

caite said...

another 5 out of 5...what am I going to do? read it i guess.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm taking some time off this summer and I WILL catch up with some of these other books by authors who rocked my socks this year. I still can't put exactly how I felt about Gone Girl into words :p

Michele said...

Yes, I'd place this one up there with Gone Girl, especially since I didn't care for Sharp Objects. And you're right....it's because we are left with a ray of hope with this one. Glad you liked it...I did, too!

Charlie said...

I haven't read Gone Girl yet, but I'm nearing it, so to speak, and I think I'd definitely take a look at this one if I liked GG. Great review!

Melissa said...

I love Flynn's books! I listened to this one and it was good on audio too!

Tasha B. said...

Tiny rays of hope are good.

Julie P. said...

I've heard that this is the best one!!! Can you believe I still have both books to read?

Amy said...

aw I just finished this and loved it! I haven't read Sharp Objects yet but I did prefer this one to GG and was surprised by the tiny ray of hope!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I think this is my favorite of the three too. I don't think I'll EVER forget the horrifying ache in my heart I felt when reading the final scene from the mom's perspective. I can only imagine, as a mother yourself, you felt a similar feeling. It will stay with me for a long, long time.

Jenners said...

Don't you wish she had more books? That's it. I have to say that I still think Sharp Objects is my favorite of hers.

Kathleen said...

I really liked Sharp Objects so I can't wait to read this one AND Gone Girl. I have two more to look forward to...yay!