Before Gillian Flynn was world-famous for her best-selling novel Gone Girl, she wrote two novels which were less popular but no less highly-acclaimed. In Flynn’s 2009 novel Dark Places, Libby Day is a street-smart woman who is the survivor of the terrible massacre of her family. Her brother is spending life in prison for the murders on the basis of Libby’s testimony against him as a child. In the present day, Libby is running low on money and is contacted by the ‘Kill Club,’ serial killer fans and amateur detectives, who hire her to talk to persons of interest from the case. As she digs deeper into the murder of her family, she begins to wonder if her brother is innocent and someone else could be the true killer.
As those who read Gone Girl know, Flynn excels at creating suspense – she tunes the tension tighter and tighter to keep you turning pages. In Dark Places she uses multiple perspectives and unreliable narrators to show different sides to each event and character, so that new pieces are added to the puzzle every chapter. In addition, the main character Libby Day is a complicated, morally grey character, but in spite of a tendency toward kleptomania, she is relatable and sympathetic. The supporting cast is also believable and fleshed out, each person acting in an internally consistent way. Flynn does not take any shortcuts on the way to her shocking conclusion, carefully building each part of the narrative so that each part interlocks with the next like a well-made clock. Dark Places is dark, graphic, and supremely well-written, and is a great pick for anyone who appreciates a suspenseful and twisted yarn.
Review by Shannon Wood
Adult Services Librarian
Nordonia Hills Branch Library