Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime, Adult Fiction
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: January 1st 2009
“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.
I’ve never read a book with the themes of Crime, Mystery, and Thriller as the main things (that I remember). But I had heard so many good things about Gillian Flynn, I had to read one of her books. Since Gone Girl wasn’t on sale on the store, I picked this one up.
Libby Day is the only survivor of a massacre that killed her mom and two older sisters, all apparently done by her fifteen-year-old brother as part of a satanic ritual. She testifies that he killed them and he’s sent to jail, while she’s handed down to everyone from aunt, and a lesser group of relatives–second cousins and great-aunts and friends of friends–again and again. All this every year until she’s eighteen-years-old to inherit $321,374 as a result of all well-wishers who’d read the poor story of little-seven-year-old Libby Day. That is, until she’s thirty something, after 24-almost-25 years later, she’s running out of money. No job, no studies, just a little house; she has to find a way to make more cash. And it ain’t growing from trees. But it comes easy when the Kill Club offers her money to join one of their meetings to discuss the mystery of the unresolved “Satan Sacrifice” she lived. Maybe not so easy, because while trying to earn more money, she meets with the one person she always doubted to see, her brother Ben, and try to find once and for all the true murderer of her family.
From the first line, I was hooked. I knew this books was one I was going to enjoy. I admit I was a bit skeptical with the whole Satanist issue in the description because I don’t like to read of those things. But that barely ever appears, at least not as the main focus, just one of the things that make you suspicious of who’s the real bad guy. From the latest books I’ve read, most of the heroines are pretty normal gals that are nice or normal. Not Libby. Even she admits it.
I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It’s the Day Blood. Something’s wrong with it. I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders.
From the beginning we have this image of Libby Day and how mean she is. But how much? I liked her characters so much. She was this girl that didn’t care so much as to anyone, didn’t care about the world, was mean and selfish, and still, she was so frail and sensitive to when it came to her family, but also mean about them too at times. We was so wonderfully made into this three-dimensional character that you can’t help but like and feel appealed to because of her situation and how she manages.
The rest of the characters were also made pretty solidly. You saw them as they are with their obvious traits, but you also had in mind how Libby saw them, and even if it felt wrong, you still felt strongly about disliking them! And that shows me how great Gillian Flynn is in her writing to make me be the character and not only read about him or her. And the sisters, Michelle and Debby along with Libby, these aren’t good girls. They might be younger than ten-years-old, but these aren’t the nice girls with pigtails you see in movies as being angels. These girls are so twisted, you won’t be able to imagine all kids as being innocent. Along with the rest of the small girls mentioned in the book. There’s no pretty covering-up here.
Not all authors can manage to make the different point of view thing work, but since this is a crime and thriller story it helps to keep the reader more on edge. One point is Libby’s as of now this day, another is of Ben Day and Patty Day, the mother. These last two appear as the day of the accident goes by until it happens and you see it all FINALLY. But as Libby goes uncovering tracks to see who is the murder, you get these hints and clues from Ben and Patty, that only make you doubt even more! It’s amazing how one thing can lead to another until you have a big mix of disastrous proportions that make everything go to h*ll and back. How a tiny thing to your eyes can be bad to another’s.
This book made me want to read more crime and thriller stories. Which I’ve been keeping at a distance because I thought they were boring. They’re not. Or maybe it’s all part of Gillian Flynn’s magic writing style.
Another thing were the descriptions. Nothing here is censored or painted as pink lilies and magic and fairies NONE AT ALL. The descriptions are so vivid, bloody and disgusting it makes it all the more real and make you feel inside the story. Here’s an example without spoilers :
More potent nightmares followed: Michelle was cooking pancakes, and grasshoppers were floating in the batter, their twig legs snapping off as Michelle stired. They got cooked into the pancakes, and my mom made us eat them anyway, good protein, crunch, crackle. Then we all started dying–choking, slobbering, eyes floating back into our heads–because the grasshoppers were poisoned. I swallowed one of the big insects and felt it fight its way back up my throat, its sticky body surfacing in my mouth, squirting my tongue with tobacco, pushing its head against my teeth to escape.
If you like a good crime and mystery suspenseful novels keeping you on edge, read this. Though, I don’t think this kind of book should be read by anyone young if they aren’t mature enough to deal with strong topics like sex, dead, language, and behavior. Plus descriptions like the ones above. However, they aren’t too frequent, but some don’t like them nonetheless. Also, to people who are strongly affected by the emotions conveyed by the author, like hate for example. I was warned to read this around happy people because some of the readers get gloomy with this read. If you are like this, read it around happy settings. If not, you’ll be good enough.
And last but not least, that ending. OH GOD THAT FREAKING ENDING! I cried in that ending. Not because it was sad, or happy, or anything at all. I cried because IT WAS SO OBVIOUS.
The suspense in this novel is so strong, there are so many suspects you have no idea if to think Libby was the killer and she didn’t remember or if Ben is the real one, or someone else. You are clueless until the last few chapters things are more clear but still it isn’t. It’s amazing. Truly amazing. And I cried because I knew it, in a way. I suspected at least, among the very long list of my other suspects… I think my mom heard me scream when I ended it and all was freaking clear.
Rating: 5 BIG AND FAT stars