Book Review: Dark Places

Title/Author:  Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Genre:  Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

Published:  May 5th, 2009 by Crown Publishing Group

Hardcover, 349 pages.

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  I freakin’ loved her debut novel, Sharp Objects (review here), so I wanted to read her other novels, and this one was next!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

My Review of this Work:

On one night, the Day family was destroyed forever.  In one instant, Libby Day lost everything she ever knew.  And now, years later, Libby is trying to figure out exactly what happened on that horrific night, and most importantly, who killed her mother and two older sisters.  Once again, Gillian Flynn impresses her readers with the intricacies of character and plot development in her second psychological thriller/crime novel.

What I really loved about the writing style of this novel was the dual time frames.  Every other chapter alternates between present day Libby narration and narration from alternating family members the day of the murders.  It kept the storyline very coherent and connected between present and past.  As Libby Day began asking questions and finding clues to her families deaths, we also find out more and more about the events of that day.  The way that both storylines mesh together so perfectly allows for such a psychologically intense story to be digested by the reader in an easy way.

The parallel narrations also allow us to really get inside each of the main characters minds, letting us get to know these characters on a deep and personal level.  Libby’s mom, Patty, is a single mother who cares so much for her children that she would do anything to keep them afloat financially, even when she is about to lose her family farm.  The day she died, Patty spent the majority of the day running around trying to protect her teenage son from horrible rumors that would throw him in jail if they were true.  Meanwhile, Ben is having an emotional journey of his own that day.  Between his rich girlfriend and her supposedly Satan-worshipping friends, Ben treks around town trying to be someone worthy of the love he craves.

But of course, I feel like it would not be a Gillian Flynn novel without a disturbed narrator, and Libby Day fits right in to that category.  She heard her entire family being murdered in her house when she was seven years old, and needless to say that definitely affected her mental and emotional development over the years.  As an adult, she really cannot do much for herself.  For her entire life, she has been living off the funds raised for little orphan Day after such a henous tragedy.  Now, with only $900 to her name, Libby’s sponser told her she had to find a way to make money.  So when a member of The Kill Club (whose members are obsessed with unsolved murders) approaches her about an interview, Libby finds herself making some money and figuring out more about what happened on that Dark Day in her past.

Just like with Gillian’s first novel, Dark Places is filled with surprise after surprise.  This crime novel is full of psychological thrill as details come together to form a finale that you literally do not see coming!  I truly could not recommend Flynn’s novels enough.  If you are looking for something filled with intrigue and mystery and a story that is just a little bit different, then check out this novel (or any of her works!).  They are definitely worth the reading investment!

My Bookshelf Review:

A Fourth Shelf Book.

Once again, Gillian Flynn brings us a mysterious and thrilling novel centering around a heinous crime.  Though this novel is not as psychologically intense as Sharp Objects, there is definitely an eerie and intriguing momentum to this story.  So be prepared to solve the mystery of the Day family along with Libby herself.  3.5 solid stars!

Love and Cherry Coke,
Jennifer

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