This is a murder mystery story told from various characters' points of view and set in the Kansas City area in 1985. The characters in this novel are very realistic, and flawed in their own human ways. This book will keep you guessing until the very last page. Lock the door and call out sick to work, because this book will not let you go until you finish it!
7-year-old Libby Day survives the night her mother and sisters are brutally murdered in their home in Kinnakee Kansas. Libby testifies that her 15 year-old brother committed the crime. Now at the age of 32 Libby has no job and no money when a group of armchair detectives approach her to try and garner information that may free her brother. Information she trades for cash. The novel is told in both present and past vignettes through the eyes of Libby, her brother and her mother, spinning a tail of dysfunction and desperation that at times will leave you feeling sick to your stomach. This novel is a truly twisted psychological thriller, with no really likable characters. I had no sympathy for any of the characters, and yet it was an incredible read. At times I had to stop and put the book aside because of the intensity and the utterly dark and depressing places that this book took me to in my own mind, so leave the lights on.
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and disturbing...
Who killed Libby Day's family? This is the mystery that is presented on the first page and the subsequent chapters detail Libby's attempt - half-hearted at first, to get the answers she so desperately needs in order for her to get on track in life. The book alternates points of view from Libby in present day to various characters from the past - describing the events that led up to, and include the infamous day of the murders twenty-five years previous - January 2, 1985.
The book is paced and the author writes excellent and well developed descriptions of the characters - Libby's mother, aunt Diane, sisters and brother - as well as of the setting of the Kinnakee, Kansas farm and Libby's house on the bluff in Kansas City, Missouri. (As a KCMO native, I was surprised to find a book set in this Midwest city because it is so rare and I really enjoyed that fact about the book.)
Because of the way the novel is written, the various points of view in each chapter are used to advance Libby's determination and investigation into actually and finally finding out who killed her family and why. The plot is revealed in layers and the reader isn't quite sure how all of this is going to come together - but it does. This is not a heart pounding thriller, but a more dark and plodding one - you know that denouement is just around the corner - you're hoping that Libby is going to get the information she wants as she confronts first one and then another of the surviving family and others involved with the search for the killer(s) of her family. Indeed, the hangers on - the Kill Club members - and her father, the loser Runner, only add to her consternation as she seems thwarted at every turn. Even her own brother, Ben, imprisoned by her testimony, seems to put roadblocks up instead of providing answers in the case.
This is not a book for the squeamish and describes some grisly scenes that include depictions of bloody murder and one of senseless animal torture. Libby, the protagonist, is not a loveable character, but one who grows on the reader as we are drawn into her world. We almost feel her lassitude and recognize how much energy her efforts cost her. We root for her, but are wondering if we really do want to know the answers. Is Ben guilty or not? No one associated with this crime is free of criminal association or above suspicion.
All in all - a good whodunit with a very appropriate ending.
I was completely drawn in by Gillian Flynn's writing style when I read her first book, Sharp Objects. Dark Places doesn't disappoint. This story line pulled me in from the first page. The way the author writes gritty, real, female characters is absolutely spell-binding. It's dark, it's disturbing, and it's impossible to put down!!!
After devouring Gone Girl, I couldn't wait to get my hands on more from Gillian Flynn. After only a few pages of Dark Places, it was obvious that I was going to love Flynn's earlier work just as much. Maybe even a little more.
Flynn is masterful at creating characters that aren't the least bit likeable, but completely engaging. For example, it's hard to feel sympathy for the "heroine," prickly shoplifter Libby Day, short-tempered, unmotivated, entitled -- and the lone survivor of her family's mass murder in the Satan-crazed '80s. But it's impossible not to want to peel back the layers of her story, to shine a light on Libby's titular "dark places." And chapters told in alternating voices, including Libby's murdered mother, Patty, and her big brother, Ben, imprisoned for his family's grisly murders, provide a great way to slowly unfurl the truth behind the night of the killings.
Once again, Flynn has captured a single day gone horribly wrong in the life of a truly twisted American family. And once again, I was genuinely blindsided when the author's carefully plotted reveal finally played out. What a great read.