Gillian Flynn: Dark Places

9780307341570_p0_v7_s192x300I am now a huge fan of Gilian Flynn! Like millions of others, I read and watched Gone Girl, and absolutely loved it. Before the popularity of the book, I hadn’t heard of her – but she already had a few books published.  Because I loved the book so much, I decided to read some of her other earlier books. I just finished reading Dark Places, and I loved it too. It’s hard to top Gone Girl, but this one’s pretty good.  But because with Girl, I had watched the movie before I read the book – I knew what was coming. Here, I had no idea what to expect, and could not put the book down!

There were some parallels between Gone Girl and this – a murder mystery you think you have already solved, but the ending really surprises you.  The locations are also similar – and familiar to me, as a former Missourian. At the center of the story is the Day family.  They are farmers, and a vicious murder takes place on the family farm, that had been home to a few generations of Days. Libby is the sole survivor of the Days, other than her brother, who is in prison for the murder of their mother and two sisters. Libby was 7 when her family was killed, and as the only witness she helped send her brother to prison. He was 15 at the time, and unable to provide a solid alibi, or defense. Since then her life has been dark, and hunated. She struggles to live a normal life, and believes her family is cursed by bad, evil blood.

It’s because she’s struggling that she meets Lyle.  Unable to hold a real job, she’s running out of money. She had survived up until this point on insurance money and … He reachers out to her, and is a member of the “Kill Club”, a group of real-life murder mystery fans. They’ve studied every aspect of the murder of her family, and now want to meet her. They will pay her for any contact she makes with those involved with the case, including her brother, and her father.  By doing this, she opens herself up to criticism, of her testimony, of her condemnation of her brother Ben. These are complete strangers who claim to know more about the case and her brother than she does. It seems really odd, and a bit cruel, considering she really had no family left – but at the same time she somewhat welcomes it – if there is a chance her brother is innocent, she feels the need to be punished.  None of this gives away the ending – there’s way more to the story than just this.

The story of their murders are then revealed through different perspectives – hers, her Mom’s, and her brother Ben.  At the beginning, I wanted to believe that Ben did it – he was in prison, and hadn’t made any attempt to get out.  Flynn draws the reader in, and has a way of changing the angle, without changing the story.  I really loved this book – and it was soo hard to put down. There’s no real redemption for any of these characters in the end, but I don’t think there needs to be. There is catharsis though.  I just picked up The Grownup, which is more of a novella, one of Flynn’s latest, and can’t wait to read it!

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