Author: Gillian Flynn
Publication Date: 5/05/09
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books
Blurb (GR): 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.
Seriously, what goes on in Gillian Flynn's head? She writes the freakiest stuff. Sharp Objects was nasty enough, and Dark Places is just as vile. Luckily for her, I (along with millions of people) like vile now and then.
Libby Day is a sole survivor of a horrendous massacre. Her mother and two sisters were brutally killed one winter night and, mostly thanks to Libby's testimony, the murders were attributed to Libby's older brother Ben, an alleged active Satan worshiper. Now, almost 25 years later, 32-year old Libby is out of money that had been donated to her by well-wishers over the years and must look for a new source of income. She settles on helping the Kill Club (a group of obsessed women who believe in Ben's innocence) to re-investigate the murders, for money of course. As Libby starts talking to various people involved in the original investigation at the Kill Club's request, her strong belief in Ben's guilt starts wavering...
I am fairly certain now that Gillian Flynn's "schtick" is writing about VERY BAD women. We are presented with an array of them in Dark Places - they lie to get attention, they abuse, they blackmail, they mooch, they kill, they are weak and pathetic. It is, no doubt, a novel approach to women empowerment. If women are equal to men, they can be equally despicable, right? The men are no better - they are good-for-nothing losers mostly. What I am getting at is that you can hardly find any likable characters in this book, which for many readers is a must (not me though).
The story itself is gruesome. Prepare yourself for brutal killings, molestation, bullying, Satan worshiping, drugs and underage sex. Some parts are so tough to read, I had to put the book aside for awhile.
But underneath the filth, there is a great mystery - well-paced, suspenseful, full of red herrings, it keeps you guessing until the very last moment who the perpetrator is.
Just like Sharp Objects, this book is absolutely not for everybody. But I thoroughly enjoyed this freaky thriller and will wait with anticipation for the release of Gillian Flynn's next macabre mystery.