Archive for June, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (via Amazon.com)

By Gillian Flynn
Started: January11, 2013
Finished: January ?? 2013

Gillian Flynn is one of those authors you either absolutely love or absolutely hate. Personally, I loved Gone Girl but a few friends absolutely hated it. What I appreciate about Flynn is her topical style of writing, taking criminal cases that cause a media frenzy and spinning them into her own, twisted narrative.

In Dark Places, the main character Libby Day is the sole survivor of a bloody massacre at her family’s secluded farm house. Police and the general community immediately place the blame for “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas” on Libby’s older brother Ben who is convicted and shipped off to prison, with little Libby’s eyewitness testimony playing an important role in the verdict.

Skip a couple of decades and mal-adjusted Libby Day, facing dwindling funds from a trust set up in her name after the murders, agrees to make a “celebrity appearance” at The Kill Club, a macabre group that recreationally examines unsolved and seemingly solved murders. Propelled by the need for money, Libby reluctantly agrees to help The Kill Club–people who believe Libby’s testimony was fake and that Ben is ultimately innocent of murdering his mother and two sisters.

The story is split between flash backs to a the year or so leading up to the murder and Libby’s life in the present day as she journeys to strip clubs, prison visiting rooms, and a shanty town for drifters in search of the truth. The story of a troubled, debt-ridden family being raised by a single mother emerges against the growing sense of abandonment and disenchantment felt by social outcast Ben, who in an attempt to escape his home life and gain favor with a popular, pretty new girl starts hanging around with a crowd that accused of Satan worship. As always, the novel ends with a “twist” that left even me (who expected it!) turning pages faster than I could possibly absorb the information.

Gillian Flynn does her research and impeccably times her novels to coincide with the media panic of certain eras: set in the 2000s, Gone Girl details a seemingly perfect middle class wife gone missing with husband as prime suspect case; Dark Places is set amid the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Flynn is a woman after my own heart, combining a semi-critique of culture and media with a killer murder-mystery.

Flynn’s books are deeply disturbing, but I enjoy them immensely….though I will say there is one scene in Dark Places involving animals and torture that almost made me sick. If you can stomach some gristly details, I highly recommend Dark Objects.


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