Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places

Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Reviewer: Grace
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Length: 349 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Grace Review

Twisted.  Disturbing.  Suspenseful.  This author once again took me down a dark path, with two shocking twists, on the search for truth of a family’s murder.  If you read or watched Gone Girls, you already know this author takes risks and likes to highlight the flaws in human character.  She doesn’t veer from that path in this book, taking the reader to a dark place, as the title suggests.

What surprises me so much about this author’s work, is how she can focus a story on a character that is not likable in any way, yet you can’t help but be fascinated by them.  Libby Day is the epitome of a lazy ass.  She doesn’t work.  She doesn’t have any goals or long term plans.  She doesn’t even have time to even fill an ice cube tray.  L-A-Z-Y!!!

The story centers on Libby’s search for the true about her family’s murder, where her 2 sisters and Mom were killed, and her brother convicted of the deaths.  Her search isn’t due to any desire for closure.  No, it’s much more pathetic.  She has run out of insurance money.  When approached by the leader of a Kill Club, whose members are fascinated with murders, she offers to find them information in exchange for money.  A real piece of work.

The story is told from alternating POVs, Libby in the present, Patty Day (her mother) and Ben Day (her brother) in the past.  With Libby’s POV, she begins to learn more about her brother than she ever did.  They two had a strong relationship as kids, but Libby provided testimony against Ben.  Many of the Kill Club members believe her testimony was manipulated, and they are eager to have their claims proven, but need Libby to get the answers.  With Patty and Ben’s POV, we get a glimpse into the family’s situation leading up to the murders, particularly as Ben began to go down a dark path.

Ben has never quite fit in.  So when he is given attention from some, he latches on despite the way he is treated.  He gets a girlfriend Diondra, who I never liked, and a friend Trey, who I really didn’t like.  Together the threesome become influenced by satanic themed activities.  First it is just music with disturbing lyrics, but it escalated with heavy drug use.

With a book featuring a triple homicide involving 3 weapons, I had to know I would be getting something dark.  But this author took me further than expected.  With repeated mentions of a satanic cult, I was hoping she would gloss things over.  No such luck.  The scene involving the bull is gag inducing.  Gruesome. Cringe worthy.  And again, disturbing.

Throughout the book, I was never fully convinced that Ben was guilty, and had my suspicions about the real killer.  The tragedy of bad gossip filled the pages of this story, as one comment by someone, true or not, could get blown out of proportion.  Then that evil lie spreads and becomes bigger and more impactful.  While Ben did hang with some unsavory characters, I believe he was just desperate to fit in and wasn’t evil to the core, like everyone painted him to be.

The truth of the murders does come out and it definitely surprised me.  Despite Libby’s ineptitude in just about everything, she finally does make a difference.

There was unresolved issue, and I could see how it could become its own story.  But I think I’m out of luck on that one.

If you are looking for a suspense read with some dark elements, this book is an excellent one and a definite recommend.

– Grace

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