Summary from Goodreads:
“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.
Gillian Flynn is one psycho, and I say this as an awed fangirl. I have been totally dumbstruck with Gone Girl when I read it with mutually psychotic reading buddies a few months back, and I swore to read her other books whenever the mood strikes. I am definitely taking back what I said about female authors writing boring and meandering suspense stories. Miss Flynn is definitely an exception.
Dark Places started a bit slowly for me, as I found myself initially irritated with Libby Day. Sure, she’s been through unexplainable horrors, but it’s been 20 years and although I didn’t expect her to have totally moved on with her life, but at least she could have tried to make efforts to improve her well-being, and not wallow in the depressed and wretched state that she’s in. To think that she had all the help that she could use to improve her life, but she was just too self-absorbed , it’s so pathetic.
But I’m glad she met Lyle. At least, she had found a purpose for her life (although, the purpose was not that at the beginning) other than thieving and waiting for her trust account to magically grow. Is it just me or is there a spark of something romantic between her and Lyle? Hee.
Ben Day was an absorbing character. I loved reading his POV. All that angst! I understand his deep desire to belong – to be liked – and it’s just horrible for him to be found in such bad company as Diondra. The first time I met this girl, I knew that Ben was headed for disaster. And for that, I think he deserved to be in prison, regardless of the fact that he was indeed the murderer or not.
Of all the POVs, I liked Patty’s best. I don’t know why, but I could feel her pain in me, as if I was the one desperately trying to keep my family together singlehandedly despite the fact that my only source of income (and pride) was in danger of being taken away from me. I could empathize with how torn she was in trying to deal with all four of her children, including a teenager son suspected to be involved in a scandal involving a minor girl and Satanism. Oh, to be a mother like Patty.
I loved how Dark Places was written. The flashbacks of the scenes the day before the massacre according to alternating POVs of Libby, Ben, and Patty were riveting and edge-of-the-seat suspenseful, albeit the fact that the depiction of the massacre really grossed me out, which was surprising, really. Before, when I read crime stories like this, I was unaffected by the gruesome description of the crimes committed, but with Dark Places, I found myself having goosebumps, my stomach clenching, at all those gory details. Maybe because most of the victims were little children? Whatever, how the crime was committed really freaked me out.
And then that final resolution. When the events during the massacre finally unfolded, I was in awe. To say more would be spoilery but really, that was such a bittersweet ending. I was teary-eyed but was also tempted to clap my hands in applause. A very awesome ending to such an awesome crime story by an awesome crime author.
Sharp Objects, next!
My copy: ebook
Reading buddies: Maria and Gwaxa