Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars. Since then she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is it Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back? She begins to realize that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find. Who did massacre the Day family?
I’ve had this book in my Kindle for over a year, I bought it in a two-pack with Sharp Objects. I had a hard time stomaching Sharp Objects, and never got around to reading this until a few weeks ago. Like most, I saw the movie trailer and thought it didn’t look half bad. It’s a murder mystery and after the death of Ann Rule, I was on a kick for some macabre and gruesome reading. Well, I definitely wasn’t disappointed in that area – or any really. This book surprisingly sucked me in – I have a hard time with Gillian Flynn’s novels at times, they can be really long winded (in my opinion) and often times I get lost in the descriptions of places, loosing my feel for the characters. But Dark Places was very different – focusing mostly on the few days leading up to the murders of the Day family.
The narration not only switching in time – going back to the days leading up to the murders – than into the present, some 20+ years later, the only surviving family member Libby, still dealing with the horrible murder of her mother and two sisters, her only living sibling sitting in prison for the crime. Flynn writes Libby not as a victim of circumstances, but someone who’s also fallen into the pits because of it. Living off money that’s been collected for her since the murders – she’s never had to work and really never has. She hasn’t had a real committed relationship, she’s very much still that little girl that escaped that night – still escaping just 20 years later from anything and everything that tries to get close to her.
But when she realizes she’s finally running out of money – she has to figure out what to do next. When she’s approached by a group called the Kill Club – scores of people who enjoy discussing and trying to solve murders. They aren’t all crazy – some are retired police officers, others are just fascinated by the unsolved crimes, but in this case they’re also convinced that Libby’s brother Ben isn’t the killer he’s been convicted as. Libby hasn’t talked to Ben the entire time he’s been in prison, but as the group pushes her to confront him, speak to him and hopefully see the innocent man they all see – she’s forced to ask herself questions she’s been avoiding since the night her mother and sisters were murdered.
It’s a psychological – suspenseful story about a woman/little girl that lost everything – when she didn’t have much to begin with. But a mother who loved her children, but wasn’t necessarily a very good mother. Libby is unapologetic about who she’s become and I really rather enjoyed that – she’s a hot mess and knows it, doesn’t necessarily like it, but admits it none-the-less. But as she keeps tracking down people from her past the questions are slowly answered – jumping from past/present – Libby and even to her mother’s narration of the events leading up to the night the Day’s were murdered.
Like with all Gillian Flynn novels – you have to pay attention, there are teeny tiny details littered throughout this book – most of which I completely over-read and ignored. The last 1/4 of the book I couldn’t put down, having to know RIGHT NOW what the hell happened next.
About the Author, Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri to two community-college professors – her mother taught reading; her father, film. Thus she spent an inordinate amount of her youth nosing through books and watching movies. She has happy memories of having A Wrinkle inTime pried form her hands at hte dinner table, and also of seeing Alien, Psycho and Bonnie and Clyde at a questionable age (like, seven). It was a good childhood.
In high-school, she worked strange jobs that required her to do things like wrap and unwrap hams, or dress up as a giant yogurt cone. A yogurt cone who wore a tuxedo. Why the tuxedo? It was a question that would haunt her for years.
For college, she headed to the University of Kansas (go Jayhawks!), where she received her undergraduate degree in English and journalism.
After a two-year stint writing about human resources for a trade magazine in California, Flynn moved to Chicago. There she earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and discovered that she was way too wimpy to make it as a crime reporter.
On the other hand, she was a movie geek with a journalism degree – so she moved to New York City and joined Entertainment Weekly magazine, where she wrote happily for ten years, visiting film sets around the world (to New Zealand for The Lord of the Rings, to Prague for The Brothers Grimm, to somewhere off the highway in Florida for Jackass: The Movie). During her last four years at EW, Flynn was the TV critic (all-time best TV show: The Wire).
Flynn’s 2006 debut novel, the literary mystery Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards – the first book ever to win multiple Daggers in one year. Movie rights have been sold.
Flynn’s work has been published in twenty-eight countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, their son, and a giant black cat named Roy. In theory she is working on her next novel. In reality, she is possibly playing Ms. Pack-Man in her basement lair. (via the author’s website)