Dark Places (Review)

Book cover for "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn.Title: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

Narrators: Rebecca Lowman, Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins, Robertson Dean

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 368 (audio length: 13 hours 43 minutes)

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

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.

I totally and absolutely loved this book.

As is the case in Flynn’s other books (Gone Girl and Sharp Objects), the premise of Dark Places is, well … dark. And the narrator, Libby, isn’t exactly sympathic. As a reader, I actually felt kind of guilty that I didn’t sympathize with Libby more. I mean, her family was murdered when she was a kid, so I’m supposed to feel sorry for her, right? And yet, Flynn managed to make her sound so unlikable that I didn’t really feel much for her except disgust and an inkling of pity.

As the story went on, though, and bits of Libby’s unreliable memories of what happened began to get parsed, I fell in love with the story just like I did with Flynn’s other books. It’s a difficult story to read, and the characters are so complex that it felt at times like they could get up off the page.

All of that just comes together to make this one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I don’t normally like mysteries, but Dark Places isn’t an average mystery. It managed to be an outstanding book in a year of outstanding books for me.


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