Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Published in 2009 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Book 1 in my January Kindle Challenge
Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the ‘Libby Day fund’. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering. The Kill Club is a group of true-crime obsessives who share information on notorious murders, and they think her brother Ben is innocent.
Ben was a social misfit, ground down by the small-town farming community in which he lived. But he did have a girlfriend – a brooding heavy metal fan called Diondra. Through her, Ben became involved with drugs and the dark arts. When the town suddenly turned against him, his thoughts turned black. But was he capable of murder? Libby must delve into her family’s past to uncover the truth – no matter how painful…
This month I am focusing on reading books that are on my Kindle as I have a huge backlog to get through! To get me started I deliberately chose this, as I thought it would be a good page-turner…
And I was right! I found this to be a gripping read, with interesting – if generally unlikeable – characters. Our narrator is Libby, but we also get third-person chapters from both her brother Ben and Patty, their mother, set in the past when the murders took place. This structure worked really well for me and built up a lot of tension as you try and piece together what happened on that fateful night.
As in Gone Girl, Flynn’s characters are unpleasant in the main, and Libby is quite a complex narrator – but perhaps understandably given what she went through when she was just seven. However her character does change as the book progresses, and although this is subtle, again I felt this was handled well and made her seem more of a real, well-rounded person.
This novel is basically a whodunnit, and from the start of the book you are trying to work out if Ben is indeed guilty of the murders. As we progress through the novel, several other potential suspects and their possible motives are revealed, and this keeps the book gripping and made me want to keep reading.
But for me this novel was really let down by the ending. It is hard for me to say too much without giving anything away, but for me it just didn’t add up and felt anti-climactic – and the more I thought about it after I had finished the book, the less it really made sense for me. This was a shame as up to this point I’d really liked the book, but the ending kind of ruined the experience a bit for me!
Overall this is well-written, and it’s a really interesting story that kept me hooked. But sadly the ending really didn’t work for me, which was disappointing.