I’m the type of person who likes to read the book before I watch the film. I inevitably end up comparing the two; of course the book is always better. Still I continue this cycle of book vs. movie as it is somehow gratifying and I suspect I am not alone in this.
Directly after reading Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl (2012) I watched the movie version, within forty-eight hours. I enjoyed the storyline in Gone Girl so I contacted one of my favorite fellow book loving friends, I needed to compare notes with her. It was this friend of mine who suggested I read another novel by Gillian Flynn called Dark Places (2009), so I hopped in my car and drove to three different bookstores trying to find it. No success. I was confused as to why the book was sold out everywhere and it wasn’t till I looked it up online that I saw there was a movie version on the way. This only made me want to get my hands on the book even more, so I charged up my kindle (although I always prefer to have an actual copy of the book so that I can display it, proudly, on one of my bookshelves) and before I knew it I was completely submerged in this shadowy mystery.
The pages of this book communicate the puzzling story of the Day family, the majority of who were violently murdered. What we know for sure at the beginning of the novel is that on the night of 2 January 1985 Patty, the Day family matriarch, was murdered along with two of her daughters, Michelle and Debby. Patty’s youngest daughter Libby, a mere seven years of age at the time, escaped the carnage and pointed the finger of blame at her brother Ben, who then went to prison for life. Libby at age twenty-six is almost completely broke and alone when she receives a letter offering her $500 to make a special guest appearance, this is how she meets up with ‘Kill Club’, a group of people who are fascinated by true crime and are conducting their own investigation into the slaying of her family. It is because she is in need of cash that she strikes a deal which involves taking money from the club in exchange for seeking out and speaking to people who are somehow involved in the case in an. As she starts to unpack her hazy memory, questions and doubts about her brother’s guilt begin to arise in her mind, did she send her innocent brother to jail? If so then who murdered her family? Questions about identity, guilt, blame, justice, violence and even Satanism, are examined in Libby Day’s haunted world.
What I liked about it: The plot unfolds through a series of flashbacks from the viewpoint of Patty and Ben, intersected by Libby’s present day investigation of the horrific events of her childhood. Gillian Flynn does an excellent job of playing with time in this novel, strategically presenting us with a gripping mystery that is difficult to step away from. I think its safe to say that Flynn excels at writing unexpected plot twists, frightening characters and completely dysfunctional family units. I am looking forward to seeing the movie version (during which I will no doubt be comparing movie to book) starring Charlize Theron as Libby Day.
What I didn’t like about it: Not much to say under this heading I’m afraid, the only comment that I can make is that the outcome is slightly predictable, however this didn’t really bother me because the writing was so good.
My recommendation: I would recommend Dark Places to anyone who enjoys a well constructed and suspenseful read. It is at this point that I will provide a warning, the plotline is completely drenched blood and guts, it’s not for the faint of heart as there is no relief from the darkness; no textbook heroes are found in the pages of this book, perhaps think twice if these things bother you.
All that being said I enjoyed reading the viewpoints’ of the intrinsically flawed and dynamic characters that are so brilliantly depicted by Flynn and so I will award this book 4 out of 5 Farrago Quills.
Buy Dark Places by Gillian Flynn at amazon.com
Visit Gillian Flynn’s webpage
Title | Dark Places
Author | Gillian Flynn
Genre | Psychological thriller
Published by | Broadway books
Date of release | 25 April 2009
Number of pages | 370
Formats | Kindle, paperback, audible
ISBN – 10 | 0307341577
ISBN – 13 | 978-0307341570