Review: Dark Places

Title: Dark Places Image

Author: Gillian Flynn

Rating: ★★★

Provided Synopsis: 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.

Review: One of these days I am going to meet Gillian Flynn, invite her to lunch, and ask her what goes on in her head. This woman is extremely talented at creating characters and stories that are morbid and filled with so many psychological problems. In this story, for instance, Libby Day is the survivor of a family massacre. Her older brother Ben was convicted of committing the crimes due to his worship of the devil. Typically this is a premise that would not interest me at all, but I have come to trust Gillian Flynn to take me for a ride into dark places where the answers to secrets are never clear.

None of the characters in this story are likable, not even Libby. These are the type of people who I would never want to meet. However, unlike her other books Sharp Objects and Gone Girl (both of which I loved), this book seemed to be a bit lax on the sharp insight into human nature. Numerous characters did things that were not given further meaning to the way that she has done in her other books. There are so many characters here that I wish she had dived a bit deeper into the way she did with Amy.

In terms of the mystery I thought it was handled very well. Now that she is a grown woman in need of money, Libby has set herself on the path to determine what really happened on the night her family was killed. The story alternates in point of views, following Libby’s investigation in present day with the chronological set of actual events that happened on the day/night of the murder from the prospective of her mother and Ben. I never guessed the culprits of the crime. I am unsettled about how things managed to become so muddled to lead to the death of three people. Like all of her books, this one will keep you thinking and talking about it for days to come.

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