Review–Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Dark Places
 
by Gillian Flynn
 
Summary: "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.


Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Dark Places was dark, gritty, and extremely addicting. I was drawn to the story and eagerly turned the pages to find out what really happened the night Libby’s family was murdered.

Libby was a strange character. She was pretty messed up as a person and she was fairly antisocial. She wasn’t very likeable at all, but for her sake, I wanted her to be able to piece together what happened that night. I thought it was both crazy and normal at the same time for her to never have questioned what really happened.  Gillian Flynn has a knack for taking a seemingly simple mystery and adding even more mystery to it when it comes to the human perspective. Her characters don’t behave like typical cookie cutter characters. Libby was flawed in so many different ways, many of which led to her going through life without making any serious decisions or questioning anything.
The novel was written from Libby’s point of view in the present day, but there were perspectives from Patty, Libby’s mother, and Ben, Libby’s brother convicted of the murders of her mom and sisters. Their perspectives began shortly before the murders took place which helped uncover a whole slew of issues and secrets.

The level of suspicion I had throughout the book about all the characters was crazy. At first, I was presented with the fact that Ben, Libby’s brother, murdered her family. I accepted that, until Libby started to speak with the Kill Club and began questioning her own testimony. As the events leading up to the murders unfolded in the views of Patty and Ben, I went back and forth. Sometimes, I thought he did it, sometimes I thought he didn’t, but I never really knew who did or who could have or what happened until it was all unveiled. I loved the way the story was told.

The events in Dark Places were messy. There wasn’t a clear path leading up to the murders or characters you met that you just knew had to be guilty. I was all over the place trying to figure out who really did it and why it was all such a mess. There were so many shocking moments completely unrelated to the murders as I found out about the characters involved.

The thing I loved most about the author’s novel, Gone Girl, was the way I went back and forth between the husband’s guilt or innocence, and I got the same experience with Ben in Dark Places. I love how she creates those moments where I just want to throw my hands up and say “Oh My Gosh, I just don’t know!” Not many mystery novels do that to me. While Gone Girl was certainly her most unpredictable novel, Dark Places was right on par with it and I definitely recommend it.


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