Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dark Places

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When person or persons unknown murdered her entire family, seven year old Libby Day managed to escape and fingered her brother Ben as the killer. Now, decades later, she's a dysfunctional and nearly penniless, and after meeting some true crime enthusiasts, isn't so sure her brother was the murderer after all. Can Libby discover the truth?

After dodging Gillian Flynn for years in the wake of Gone Girl, I finally caved it when this showed up in one of my daily cheap ebook emails. Gillian Flynn, where have you been all my life?

Dark Places is a mystery but it's one of those mysteries that also happens to be brutal and very well written, like Winter's Bone or something along those lines. Libby Day is a broken adult, having never recovered from her mother and sisters being murdered by her brother. Or were they? Libby cracks open the past like a pinata and takes a look at what falls out: not candy but a lot of ugliness, more like a brood of cockroaches.

Since I live very near nowhere's asshole, rural settings always resonate with me because I understand living miles from everywhere and what could happen in the dark of night. Libby wakes up to the sounds of her family being slaughtered. Not exactly your feel-good read.

I love that instead of some notion of heroism, Libby gets involved in her family's murder because she's nearly run out of money and has no idea how to function as a normal adult. She's a kleptomaniac and has burned every familial bridge she ever trod upon. Lyle and the Kill Club light the spark but it's the lack of money that provides the fuel, at first, anyway.

Gillian Flynn crafts one hell of a mystery yarn but it's her characters that show she's more than just another mystery lover. Ben and Libby are sympathetic figures, despite both being deeply flawed. Still, she makes you understand their motivations, making them seem all too realistic. The parallel structure of the book builds the suspense. I had no idea what actually happened that night until it was pretty much spelled out for me, which I love in a mystery.

There's not much else I want to say for fear of giving something away. Dark Places. Five stars. Read it!

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