Dark Places is the second adult psychological thriller by Gillian Flynn. It is another standalone novel and could easily be read before or after her other books. This book follows Libby Day 25 years after her family were massacred. Libby and Ben were the only survivors and it was Libby’s testimony at 7 years old that saw her older brother convicted and jailed for the murders. At the start of the book Libby is realising that she cannot survive on the handouts from her well wishers for much longer, and must find a way to earn some cash. Reluctant to get a regular job, Libby meets ‘The Kill Club’. This group of people are determined that Ben is innocent of any crime and are willing to pay Libby for her help in their fight for his freedom. Libby finds herself getting sucked back to the events of that fateful day and night and she begins trying to find out who really murdered her family.
The plot of this book is extremely engaging. It flicks between present day events, told third person by Libby to the past events of the day and night of the murders, told third person by Patty Day and Ben Day. I really liked this technique as it not only allowed me to see how things were interpreted differently by each character, but also allowed the full story to be slowly unfolded before my eyes. I enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery of this book. It was suspenseful, engaging and all the little twists and turns kept me guessing. I had a few theories by the end of the book and I was actually quite glad when none of them proved to be correct. I do enjoy an unpredictable plot!
As with Gillian’s novel ‘Sharp Objects’, this is a dark book with disturbing and graphic themes and scenes. The murder scenes are detailed and there is frequent mention of satanism, molestation, sex and drugs. Although a little shocking this adds to the overall “feel” of the book – this is not meant to be a cheery read, and the chilling tone keeps you on your toes.
Again, Gillian has written strong female characters who are not very nice women. Most of them had their issues and were at time very mean, manipulative selfish, dangerous and generally unpleasant. It makes the book feel more unique to the author’s particular style. The main character Libby is not “likeable” but I thought she made a good, realistic narrator. It felt very genuine that she was a little messed up. I’m sure anyone that witnesses their family being massacred at such a young age would be the same.
I enjoyed this book enough to make a near immediate decision to go on to read Gillian Flynn’s third novel ‘Gone Girl”. I believe that this book has a male narrating character, so I am intrigued to see how this is done for a whole book, and whether it will still feature villainous women!
I reccommend this book to anyone who enjoyed Sharp Objects, and any fans of the murder mystery or psychological thriller genre. Its definitely an adult read, and if you find yourself easily disturbed then I would approach with trepidation!