A few months ago I was looking for an audiobook to listen to from the library and found that Dark Places by Gillian Flynn was available. I had read Gone Girl in 2013, and while I didn’t love it (3 stars for me), Flynn’s writing had some qualities to it that I did enjoy, so I thought I would give her another try. Read on to find out if it “thrilled” me and truly earned its spot in our much anticipated Thriller Week!
What I had liked about Gillian Flynn’s writing in Gone Girl once again impressed me while I listened to Dark Places. Flynn has a knack for creating a cadence with her writing. It has such a unique rhythm to it as it travels from the present back to the past. I love that element of her writing. I also love the different voices she effectively portrays as a story unfolds. Dark Places was packed with characters and each person had a huge presence in the story. In Gone Girl, I couldn’t get past the crazy. In Dark Places, the characters as a whole weren’t quite as psychotic, but their behaviors were definitely unnerving.
Libby Day was a disturbed young woman, which was hard to blame her for since she had heard the murders of her family members taking place as a young girl. Her laziness and desire to just give up on life didn’t sit well with me as I was first getting to know her as an adult. However, her partnership with the Kill Club, who wanted her help in finding out the truth about the murders, gave her a renewed sense of purpose in life. As she got more engaged in her history and started uncovering details of the mystery, Libby began feeling alive again and those were the moments I enjoyed most with her character.
Patty Day was Libby’s mother. Flynn traveled back to the past and shared Patty’s perspective as it led to her fateful death. Even though she wasn’t mentally, physically, or financially able to support her family, I couldn’t help but like her. She loved her kids very much and desperately tried to provide for her family, but she just didn’t know how to deal with the curve balls life kept throwing at her. Overwhelmed by so much all the time, it overshadowed her. She married poorly and found herself having to rely heavily on her sister, just to make it through her days. I sympathized with her character as she did the best she could for her family with what little she had.
Ben Day, Libby’s older brother, is the convicted killer of his mother, Patty, and his two younger sisters. The development of Ben’s character was astonishing. He was an outcast with a very low self-esteem, spending time with the exact opposite kind of people you’d want your kids to hang out with. I wanted to believe he was innocent and his lack of good friends was his only crime. Yet, like you’d expect in a well-written mystery, there were times I was certain he had done it, while other times I felt like he couldn’t have done it.
One thing that was very unsettling to me was the effect that poverty had on the troubled members of this family. What they had to do to get by was eye-opening and left a huge impression on me. The sadness they all felt from day to day was hard to swallow. It seemed like most of the characters were leading their life as if a penance. This really tugged at me throughout and helped me understand how they all ended up where they did in the story.
There were many other characters that were also critical to the story: Runner was Patty’s ex-husband and the father to all of the kids, Diondra and Trey were Ben’s girlfriend and friend, and we even got to know Libby’s two sisters when visiting the time leading up to their deaths. These characters and more helped create the backdrop of a great mystery.
My only criticism of the book was that it was a bit of a slow starter for me. There was a lot to set up with the elaborate characters and story line, and it did take me a bit to get into it. But once the backdrop was set, the pacing picked up and moved at a perfect speed to the conclusion.
What made this such a great read for me was how Flynn used the present to create realizations about the fateful night of the murders, but then masterfully traveled back to the past so we could see the murders unfold for ourselves instead of just hearing it told by someone else. The multiple points of view from which Dark Places was written was brilliant! The story had a very impactful ending and made sense of all of the details that were uncovered throughout. It was a perfect choice for Thriller Week on Kindles & Wine!
One last note: if you are an audiobook listener, this would be an excellent choice for you! The narration was incredible. Different actors portrayed Ben, Patty, and Libby and created an excellent experience as a listener.Bottom Line
In typical Gillian Flynn fashion, those who like past and present views of a mystery will love Dark Places. The multiple points of view were brilliantly written and narrated to perfection. It was a great mystery with well-developed characters. I will most definitely be reading more by this author!
Rating: A- (4½ stars)
Wine/Beverage Pairing: A shot of Everclear to help you and these troubled characters forget all their worries because of its strong alcoholic content. It also matches the sneakiness of most of the characters, as it is odorless and flavorless.Amazon | Audible Buy Digital: Kindle | Nook Buy Print: Amazon | B&N
Other Titles by Gillian Flynn
Kindle Gal’s Review | Goodreads
Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook
Goodreads Buy: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Nook
Dark Places Giveaway
To enter for your chance to win, you must:
- Be a follower of our blog (click HERE to subscribe), AND…
- In Dark Places, the Kill Club is obsessed with learning the truth about “The Satan Sacrifice.” Hit the comments and tell me: What notorious crimes have you found yourself curious about, and why?
Please note: All entrants must review and adhere to our official giveaway policy. This contest will close on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 11:59 PM (CDT) and the two winners will be notified via email on Thursday, September 25.