Paperback, 349 pages
The book starts off with one of the best lines I've read in a bit:
"I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It's the Day blood. Something's wrong with it. I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders."
How great is that? This made me want to read more.
If you have a weak stomach, this is probably not for you. It's dark and gruesome in parts and somewhat graphic.
It switches back and forth from present day to the day of the murders some 20 years ago and is told from the point of view of three people: Libby, Ben (brother) and Patricia Day (mom). Sometimes the multiple point of view approach doesn't work at all, but Flynn manages to get it rolling here.
It starts off in the present with Libby Day. Her entire family was murdered by her brother (so they said), she-left as an orphan, passed from family member to family member. It was a highly publicized murder and there was high-profile media coverage as she was the only witness. She became the heroic nine-year-old survivor to a horrific event. A "Libby Day fund" was set up for her by donations from the public who felt sorry for her-a couple hundred thousand dollars-which she has been living off of since she was eighteen. There were book deals and articles that popped up on anniversaries. When the money starts running out, she proposes another book deal to her money manager, but he doesn't think it would work because of the time lapse and people are more interested in another horrific murder.
When you read Ben's point of view, you see all evidence points to him, and by extension, his girlfriend, who-admittedly-is a bit of a crazy one. He's into Satanism, keeps to himself and is generally acting unlike himself.
She finds out about the "Kill Club," one that is obsessed with notorious crimes like the Day case, who are convinced that the brother, Ben, did not do it and have their own theories. They sent her a letter hoping she would consent to giving talks about the day of the murders on the "real facts'. They are a bit star-struck that this is THE Libby Day, in the flesh. Libby agrees to help them out with the case, but she wants money in exchange for her services-upfront. The Kill Club was a bit weird...how people can be so obsessed with something like that and the fact that there was, like, a convention.
There was one part where Flynn introduced this man, Calvin Diehl. He only has one small chapter from his point of view...at first I thought: What is this and why is this guy here? It seemed he had no place whatsoever. Wrong. You find out by the end of the book. Don't want to spoil it. You'll just have to read it.
I've read all three of Flynn's books. She really has a knack for writing damaged women, dark and disturbing situations. In Dark Places, she did a great job in writing Ben and the psycho girlfriend. You believed he really murdered his own family. Although, with each book I read, I felt the need to regroup and clear my head. Reading it sometimes made me uncomfortable and squirmy. Like a sticky film.
So much better than Sharp Objects. You can see the writing is tighter and the plot more developed. You sympathize with Libby even though she is far from perfect. I totally did not see the end happening as it did. Truly a bit of a twist for me.
Gillian Flynn's site
You can read an excerpt from the book here.
ALSO! Dark Places looks like it will become a movie soon! 2014?
You can read more of my reviews at Goodreads.