Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Finished: Sep.17, 2009
First Published: May 5, 2009, paperback May 4, 2010
Genre: thriller, mystery
I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.
Reason for Reading: The plot sounded like this would be the perfect read for me, but I haven't read her first book which has been widely praised. I received a review copy from Random House Canada. I also selected this book for the Random Reading Challenge. Qualifies for the RIP IV Challenge.
Comments: The book first opens with a woman, Libby, young thirties, only survivor of her family's brutal slaying, her mother and two older sisters, when she was seven years old. Her brother, Ben, fifteen at the time, was convicted and sentenced to life for the murders. Libby has now used up the "fund" that accumulated for her through her childhood as people donated to her plight. Now a mixed-up woman with no means of support, and no real desire to work, she is approached by a fan club of true crime fanatics who will pay her to get in touch with people who have first hand information about the crime and also are willing to buy any 'memorabilia' she may have. Libby figures this is better than working but when she attends her first convention of this underground club she is startled when she realizes they all have ideas as to who the real killer is, no one believes Ben is guilty, but she was there, she knows he is, doesn't she?
Told from several different viewpoints we follow Libby as she traces back her family history, while at the same time in alternating chapters we are returned to that fateful day and shown the events from both Ben and Libby's mother's point of view. Other participants of that day occasionally tune in and tell an incident in their own voice, as well. Very well-written, with a tension that continues to rise slowly through the book to the final reveals which are stunning. I did find myself managing to stay ahead of the plot, but just by a few paces, and it still did have a few surprises for me in the end.
The story follows three teenagers, all of very different backgrounds, yet all neglected in different ways. These are kids in rural America with little entertainment and the trouble that they can find themselves participating in without considering the consequences. Drugs, sex and a bit of satanism (this is the '80s when that topic was "cool" in certain teen crowds) are all present in one form or another. There are a few brutal scenes that may be difficult for some to read, but it's about average compared to the usual murder thrillers I read.
Ultimately, I found the book asking the question, "Are some people inherently born evil?". It is dealt with in many ways throughout the book and while the two main characters indirectly have their answers, the reader is left pondering the question themselves. A great read for thriller fans! I keep hearing her first book is even better, so I'm definitely going to add that to my reading and anxiously await what Ms. Flynn has in store for us next.
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