Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Gillian Flynn's second novel, Dark Places, previews Flynn's talent for creating twisted, broken characters. Each possesses a secret, a piece to solving the grisly murders of the Day family in rural Kansas the day after New Years. Using present day narration, with point of view flashbacks, Flynn slowly reveals the truth of the crime one hour at a time.
Libby, the lone survivor, drifting through life, living off the trust fund set up for her from charitable donations. Middle-aged, her account is empty, no one wants to donate to a middle-aged woman, decades removed from the events that made her a media darling. Encouraged by true crime enthusiasts and their $500 checks, she begins a journey to fill in the gaps in her memory.
Ben, convicted for the satanic murders and Libby's older brother, relives the day in memory. Each tragic moment building to the homicide.
Patty, Ben and Libby's mother, broke and overwhelmed with four children she cannot feed, an ex-husband she cannot get rid of and a looming foreclosure, relives the day of the murders and the decent into her own depression.
This novel can best be reviewed in two parts. The first 200 pages set up the characters, the crime, the questions people still have about Ben's guilt. This part drags at times, and often I would put down the novel and ask "Who cares?" or "What's the point?"
But, the last 140 pages put all of the characters into direct contact, forcing them to confront each other, to find the "truth." I ripped through the last third of the book, often times having to set it down for a moment to catch my breath.
I would say the payoff is worth the initial struggle and your perseverance pays off with the novels ending.
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