Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
345 pages, published May 2009
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from the Library
I rarely read mysteries or thrillers. I generally dislike books that are too bloody/gory or violent. However, several of my friends read Flynn's newest novel, "Gone Girl" and had good things to say about it, and so I read it for book group back in December. Despite my rarely reading or liking this genre, I gave it a try and actually really liked Gone Girl. Crazy psychological thrillers are one part of the genre I can get into, and Gone Girl was definitely crazy and psychotic! So, after enjoying Gone Girl and hearing numerous positive things about her other novels, I decided to read Dark Places.
In 1985 when Libby Day was seven, her mother and two sisters were murdered. Libby was able to jump out a window and flee the scene. Weeks later, she testified that her 15 year old brother, Ben, committed the murders, landing him in prison. Now, 25 years later, funds raised by well wishers are running out, and Libby needs a plan. The Kill Club is a secret Society obsessed with famous crimes--and they're hoping Libby can provide them with details that will hope free Ben from prison. For a fee, Libby reconnects with people from her past to learn her testimony wasn't as solid as she thought in 1985. Told in alternating perspectives (Libby in the present and her mother and brother on the day of the murders in 1985) the truth of what happened is pieced together.
Flynn's writing style is excellent. The alternating narratives and flow of the book encourage you to keep reading, and Flynn creates complex characters that are believable and interesting. That being said, I at times felt like I was trying to just "get through" the book--a "just tell me who did it/what happens" rather than being invested in the process. That's what I loved about Gone Girl--it kept you guessing and had unexpected twists and turns. Also, I found the topics in this book deeply disturbing and unsettling to read (extreme violence toward humans and animals, abuse, drug use, and drug and alcohol use while pregnant, to name a few). I feel this tainted my opinion of the book and gave me the "I just want to get through it" feeling, as well as my reason for my 3 stars (though it really should be 3.5 stars) rating on Good Reads. These topics may bother some people more than others, though, and if it doesn't bother you as much as it does me, then you'll probably love this book.
The ending of this book does tie up all the loose ends, unlike Gone Girl. Normally I love an ending where everything comes together, but the ending to Dark Places left me unsatisfied. No spoilers here, but the ending was a bit of a letdown for me. On one had, the outcome was not what I expected, but not in a way that lived up to the rest of the book. Perhaps it was because Gone Girl had such a crazy ending.
Bottom line: If you're looking for something like Gone Girl, you won't find it in Dark Places. But if you're looking for a good mystery and don't mind violence and disturbing themes, this book is for you. Regardless of the fact that I didn't love this book, I'm still planning on reading "Sharp Objects" and still believe Flynn to be a great writer.
Overall rating for "Dark Places": B-