Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I picked up this fiction book on a whim when I visited the library. It seemed to be your typical murder mystery – a little bit of suspense, a bit of a thriller; sure sign me up!

What The Book Is About

The book revolves around a girl named Libby Day and her brother, Ben, whose mother and two sisters were brutally murdered. Libby testifies that Ben killed her family which ultimately sends him to prison for murder. 25 years later, Libby is approached by a “Kill Club” that devotes its time to researching notorious crimes and presenting the case that the person convicted may have been done so wrongly. The Day case was one of their most discussed cases. The Kill Club causes Libby to question her original testimony and she finds herself on a hunt to reconnect with the various people from her hometown on a search for the truth of that night. Her search leads her to some dangerous places and she finds herself re-living the night of the murders – on the run from a killer.

“The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty – we all have it”. I think this quote from the book justly describes the intricacies of the characters in this book and Gillian Flynn’s bone chilling ability to thrill.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed that this book really does keep the reader guessing. The 2nd half of the book had me guessing that the murders were committed by 4 different people!

Ben’s character was probably the most mysterious. His character leaves you wondering whether he is the way he is because of external factors or if he just has an internal voice that he can’t keep quiet. Ben’s dad, Runner, was absent most of his life so Ben grows up in a household of females – probably a tough situation to be in because of the lack of a father figure. I think this contributes to his feeling of being misunderstood and ultimately causes him to distance himself from his family. I found Ben to be naive and just wanting to fit in. He has some lapses in judgement which I think were magnified because of his oddball character. There were moments that I just felt sorry for Ben – a guy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time … several times over.

Libby is introduced to us as a woman in her late 20s that has no direction and really no real purpose in life. She is consistently looking for ways to profit off of her family’s misfortune and as her bank account balance goes lower and lower, she is forced to find an alternate means to make ends meet. Enter the Kill Club that offers her some money to answer some questions and get involved in a further investigation and interrogation of people that may have been involved in her family’s brutal murder. As the only sibling that was ever close to Ben, she is convinced to face the fact that maybe, just maybe, Ben didn’t commit the murders she had accused him of when she was younger. Libby’s character starts off as a “feel sorry for me” character but built herself to be a strong and determined character that isn’t afraid to face danger to come to peace with the truth of the awful night.

Patty was a single mother raising 3 daughters and a son. Flynn portrayed Patty to be borderline depressed but as the story progresses there is no doubt that this mother loves her children – even when Ben gets himself into ample trouble. I really felt for Patty – a woman who had hopes and dreams of managing her parents’ farm but ends up giving that up after marrying Runner. Patty suffers the ultimate sacrifice in trying to ensure a better life for her children and there’s a moment in the book where you feel sorry for her following a bad decision that was made with the best intentions.

I enjoyed that the story is told from 3 points of view because I found that it helped develop the characters and allowed you to get into each person’s head and see how a situation was interpreted differently by each character. Each chapter alternates from present day back to 1985, the year of the murders, which I also enjoyed. Flynn did a great job of ending chapters with a cliff-hanger and then launching the reader to a different time period. This was probably the reason I couldn’t put the book down because I was dying to go back to the previous time period to continue the story!

Without giving anything away, there were a few twists and turns and the moment you seem to think you know who committed the murders, there’d be another plot twist and again, I would find myself turning the pages to see if I could figure it out once and for all.

I’d recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a thriller and a good old “whodunit” type of book with a few pretty messed up characters!

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