Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Dark Places: A Novel
"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.
Wow, what a story. Dark Places is very dark in a very good way. I had read Gone Girl and enjoyed it so I thought I should give another of Gillian Flynn's novels a try to see if I liked it as much. I had the same issue with this book as I did with that one, something at the end just was not as good as the rest of the story. In Dark Places there was a chapter that just didn't fit, it didn't read like the rest of the story. It is unfortunate since I was loving it until then.
On to the story. It opens with present day Libby. Man she has issues. Yes, she has a horrible past, but she is written in a way that I never feel bad for her or anything. I just watch what she does and think interesting, or just go along with it. She is not a character that makes you wish everything would work out for, that everything would somehow get better and everyone lives happily ever after. I mean she is just living off of the funds well wishers gave her so many years ago, and she always wants her tragedy to be the top tragedy. She has her issues, but she doesn't apologize for them. That is just the way she is. She, and all of the characters in this book, seemed more real than most stories. I did like her though, I liked reading her. The reason why she starts to dig up the past is a little iffy, but I just went with it. I like the idea of the Kill Club and Lyle (who is probably the character with the least issues).
The story is told in two parts, Libby present day and the family members in the past the day of the murders. I did enjoy reading the past sections, and how things slowly started to come together to show what happened. Ben does look guilty since he is so angry and detached. He doesn't help himself in the present either so I was constantly wondering did he really do it? It was fun to unravel the mystery slowly and see all the coincidences that filled in the picture of that day. All the simple things that were taken out of context and lead people to believe one thing or another. Very well done. So many details that just worked. It never really felt coincidental or too much, it felt real like this could happen.
My only issue with the book was near the end when Libby goes to talk to Polly. It starts off alright, but quickly gets to the really? This is really how you are going to play this? It just got a bit ridiculous. The rest of the story was not so it was sad to see these few chapters which were just not in line with the rest of the story. It felt like they came from a different book. They just didn't fit. Though they do help Libby figure things out, it was too easy. It was like the author didn't know how else she could figure it out so she just kind of shoves it in her face. Even with that I never would have guessed the ending and what really happened in full. It was so crazy how everything just came together in the perfect storm of coincidences to make what happened happen. I never would have guessed it, though afterwards I did look back to some parts to see if I would have paid more attention to certain sections how I might have put it together. Even still I don't think I would have, which is great. I liked being surprised by what really happened, surprised by how the events unfolded. Even though there were a few chapters which were not so good, it still ended on a positive for me.
Overall it was well worth the read and I cannot wait to read more by Gillian Flynn. It is hard to find good, dark books and Flynn definitely knows how to write them.