I just realized there are few authors that I fall in love right from their first book that I can lay my hands on, and then they go on to make me stay in love (unlike the people in real life, but that is a story for another time), with every one of their other books. I am all praise about Gillian Flynn (of the Gone Girl fame) and her book Dark Places, and I can't stop myself raving about it to everyone who would listen and who wouldn't even. Gillian Flynn, you are my newest favorite author!
Genre: Fiction - Psycholgical Suspense thriller
Main Characters: Libby Day, Ben Day, Patty Day, Ronald 'Runner' Day, Diondra Wertzner
Setting: Kinnakee, Kansas, 1985 (United States)
Kansas City, Missouri (United States)
Twenty five years ago, 7 years old Libby Day testifies against her 15 years old brother Ben, for the massacre of their family - their mother and two younger sisters. Ben is convicted for life, partially on Libby's testimony and partially on the evidences related to his practices of ritualistic Satanic worship and substance abuse. Libby is still mentally stunted and turns pretty much selfish and broke, living these many years on the donations and trust fund for survivors of such murders. Libby blocks away, mentally and physically, anything to do with 'those' days - until she was contacted by an odd club obsessed with solving mysteries, called Kill Club.
The members of the club are convinced that Ben was not the murderer after all, and offer to pay Libby to talk to people related to the murder or the Day family. Libby agrees to do it for want of money. As she meets the people from her past, she unravels the dark secrets that happened decades ago as well as the poignant and confused memories she had safely locked up in her mind.
Their mother, Patty was shot on her head, both Patty and Debby had been slaughtered with an axe, and Michelle was strangled to death. The walls were covered with blood and scriptures and profanity. Libby confesses to the reader that she had not seen anything but was hiding and listening to a male voice and screeches of their mother. She tries to convince herself that she did the right thing and all the evidences did point to Ben. Was she correct? Did she put the right person in? Will she able to get past her past demons? Grab a copy of the Dark Places right now.
The narrative alternates from present day Libby, and voices of Patty Day (mother) and Ben Day on the day of the gruesome murders.
I have always been partial to stories with flawed characters and guess what, this book is so ridden with them that I can't help loving the book and the writing - not the characters. And that's there, that I didn't love or even like any of the characters. The plot is gory, dark and depressing; yet poignant enough to strike a chord in your heart and hold my attention. Each character is etched to perfection and the flaws are quite real. Be it Patty who hated her miserable life so much that she could see only the easy way out or Ben who wanted only a sign of approval from his girlfriend and friends. Or Libby who did not want to take a step to recount her past until she found it as a lucrative business. Yes, these are the kinds of people I look forward to in books. (Yes, I am creepy and weird)
Despite the gory theme with abundant violence, it was the writing of Gillian Flynn that kept me reading it. I love that she expresses so much emotions with few words. Having seen read and loved "Gone Girl" I was sure I would enjoy the book but I ended loving it as much.
As ever, some of the quotes that I loved from the book.
"I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs."
"That was another of my mom’s words: glum. It meant having the blues in a way that annoyed other people. Having the blues aggressively."
"I felt something loosen in me, that shouldn’t have loosened. A stitch come undone."
"They were recognizable but totally foreign, an everyday word you suddenly couldn’t remember to save your life."
Many might have a problem with the ending being abrupt but that is how life is. The twisted and vile nature of people and circumstances do play a lot of role in everyone's life. Of course, the book is not for everybody. Perhaps, Satanic worship, substance abuse, underage sex, teen pregnancy as well as the vivid description of the bloody massacre would be too much. But on the whole I loved her writing and I am looking forward to reading her other books as well. If you are up for dark thriller, with so many twists that you don't see them at all and beautiful writing to accompany, the Dark Places should be your pick.