Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Published: May 5th 2009
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
I have meanness inside me, real as an organ.
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in "The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnnakee, Kansas." As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived-and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who've long forgotten her.
The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details-proof they hope may free Ben-Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she'll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club...and maybe she'll admit her testimony wasn't so solid after all.
As Libby's search takes from her shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby's doomed family members-including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started-on the run from a killer
What a awesome way to spend my weekend...reading this fantastic mystery. Dark Places is everything you want to read in a mystery novel. The book description immediately grabs you and you can't help but want to read it.
Sometimes the synopsis makes a book sound much more interesting than it actually is, in the case of Dark Places I have to say, it is THAT interesting. Dark Places follow Libby Day the only survivor in the Day Satanic Murders other than her fifteen year old brother, who is currently in prison for committing the crimes. Libby's mother, Patty, and her two older sisters, 10 year old Michelle and 9 year old Debbi are all murdered in the early morning of January 3rd, 1985. Libby, now in her 30's is running out of money, the money that was given to her from people all over who wanted to help Libby, the seven yr. old survivor. She is contacted by Len, a member of the Kill Club, The Kill Club are a group of individuals that are obsessed with famous murders. Members of this group all believe that Ben is innocent and that Libby was mistaken when at 7 yrs old she testified that she saw her brother killing her mom with an ax. She decides she will contact key players to the murders for the Kill Club....for a price. This starts as a solution to her money problems but quickly changes to finding out what really happen that night her family was murdered. Dark Places is told in alternate chapters, Then and Now. The Now follows Libby as she makes contact with people about the murders and the things she discovers, the Then is also told in alternate chapters between Ben and his mom, Patty, chronicling their day back in January 2nd 1985. The pacing is spot on. With alternate chapters, I usually find one more interesting than the other, not the case with Dark Places. I was equally engaged in both the Then and Now. The mystery was very much a mystery. As the unraveling was happening, it seemed like it was happening in a pace that allowed you time to think of what you just learned, just as Libby did.
Libby is a character you immediately want and expect to like just because of her horrible circumstances but author Gillian Flynn actually doesn't give her many redeeming qualities. Libby is angry, mean, very cold and a kleptomaniac. She comes off as one that has no heart. She isn't sympathetic to anyone and is very selfish. But she is real. I was surprised that despite her flaws and not liking her much in the beginning, she really grew on me. Obviously I sympathized with her but she is not a character I immediately liked, but I also knew someone who had been through so much was going to have emotional problem and most likely severe ones. Ben is scary, yet super vulnerable. He has this need to be accepted by people. His low self esteem is apparent from the beginning, and many times I felt sad for the kid that started off that horrific day. Patty, the mother, was screaming inside for help. She is overrun with problems from lack of money to the trouble she sees brewing in her son. I felt so bad for her because she clearly felt like she had no where to run to for help. There is a desperation in her that almost makes me cry. There are more characters that somehow though inadvertently had some part in that day. All of these characters were equally intriguing to me.
The eeriness background of the back road farms in Kansas is a perfect setting of Dark Places. I kept picturing a rundown desolate cold farm, the farmhouse tired and unhappy looking. Abandoned warehouses and wooded area, perfect for the Satan worshiping going on in Kinnakee, and it's surrounding towns.
Everything in Dark Places fit together. I recommend Dark Places to anyone who just loves a good solid read. This is my first Gillian Flynn read and it won't be my last.