Dark Places

By Gillian Flynn

This is the second of Gillian Flynn’s books that I’ve read, the first being Sharp Objects, which was an interesting read.

Summary from the Chapters website:

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” […] 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. […] 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. […] Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started-on the run from a killer.

Let me say right off the bat that Libby Day is not very likable. At least, I didn’t think so. Perhaps it’s understandable, given her childhood, but I found it difficult to care about her. She just seemed so aimless and useless. As the story progressed, I began to sympathize somewhat, but I still wouldn’t say that I liked her.

Libby lives day to day, without planning for the future at all. She has no money and when she is contacted by The Kill Club, she sees it as an opportunity to make some quick cash by talking about her family and selling various memorabilia, e.g. old birthday cards from her mom. Then the club wants her to talk to people who may or may not have been involved, which she agrees to, for a fee of course. This leads her to question her testimony given years before, including her belief that Ben is guilty.

To be honest, I didn’t really like any of the characters. The Day family members were always angry or frustrated with each other. They seemed to have a difficult life, living on a farm that wasn’t making any money, barely scraping by. Although I may not have liked any of them very much, I felt bad for them.

Parts of the book were a bit vulgar for me, and there was a scene involving animal murder that I really did not like to read. I don’t like when harm comes to animals in books or movies and while I understand the point that was being made with this scene, it was tough, for me, to read.

What  kept me reading was the mystery of her family’s murder. I really wanted to know what happened and the author did a great job of unraveling everything. Each chapter alternates between Libby in the present day, and then her mother and her brother leading up to the events of the murder back in 1985. It was a very effective way of building suspense and I liked getting the different characters’ perspectives. Often something from a ‘Ben’ chapter would reveal the truth about something hinted at in a different chapter.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book. It was certainly interesting, and the overall mystery was well done, with an ending that I didn’t entirely see coming. I guess I was just a bit put off by some of the language. I also didn’t connect with any of the characters, which disappointed me, because I didn’t really care one way or the other what happened to anyone. I really only kept reading out of curiosity, to find out what happened the night of the murders. I suppose my main gripe with the book is that some of the characters were just so darn unlikable, and if I can’t connect with a character in a book, I have a hard time feeling drawn in and invested in the story.

However, this is just my opinion, and someone else might love this book. I have seen some positive reviews, so perhaps I’m in the minority here. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought.

3 Responses to Dark Places

  1. Lorie says:

    I’m reading a book like that now, too. It’s called Black Out by Lisa Unger. Not any of the characters are likable, but they’re all victims of horrible situations, childhoods etc., so I try to muster some empathy for them. It’s not been easy though. And what keeps me reading is the mystery behind the story, as was the case for you with the book you reviewed here. I usually have a 50-page rule; that is, if I’m not loving the book by the 50th page, I put it aside for awhile. Don’t know why I didn’t with this one. Guess it’s the mystery part of it that’s kept me reading. It sure isn’t the “niceness” of any of the characters within. Happy Reading! Don’t you love winter weekends when all you want to do is curl up with a good story! Looking forward to your next review!!!

  2. Bryan says:

    Just finished a book u might like. “The 13th Hour” by Richard Doetsch published in 2009.

    Nick Quinn is being held in jail accused with murdering his wife. He saw “her bloody corpse, shot in the head” in the mudroom of their house, just seconds after the fact. His fingermarks are on the murder weapon found in trunk of his car. Its a thriller with a reverse!!! Nick finds himself able to go back in time, one hour at a time, for a total of 12 hours. With each hour that Nick travels back, he finds more clues to the identity of his wifes real killer. But he also discovers that his actions in the past may have unexpected repercussions in the future. Not as good an ending as I thought it would be, but still a good thriller!
    Story opens with an “Author’s Note:”
    “YOU ARE NOT MISTAKEN as you turn to the next page and find Chapter 12. The chapters of this book are in reverse order and are to be read that way for reasons that will become evident upon your journey.”

    I liked The 13th Hour so much, that I am reading another book, “the Thieves of Darkness” published in 2010 by same author.

    Let me know what you think.

    Dad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.