Review – Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Since I had never read a Gillian Flynn novel, I decided to get my first one from the library (why spend the money if it may not be one you want to re-read.)  I was very glad that I made that decision.  While I appreciate the writing and the storytelling (hence the 4/5 stars I gave Dark Places), I will never re-read this book.  I think one of my Goodreads status updates says it best – “This book is making my heart hurt. It’s a bit depressing.”

Here is the synopsis from Amazon: “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.  Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, 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 its 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 or 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 her from 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.”

So…here’s the deal – I didn’t care for one single character in Dark Places.  All of them are just unlikable and not good people.  You would think that the flashback scenes showing Libby’s mother and two younger sisters would at least give me someone to pull for (even if you know they’re going to die.)   But, her mother was weak.  You have to read the book to find out how weak but it’s disgusting to me personally.  I don’t have kids but NO WAY would I do that to my family.  And, her sisters were pretty much brats.  That didn’t make any of them deserve to die but they were just hard to like.  Libby, our MC, is not a good person.  She steals, lies and makes money off the horrible things that happened to her family.  The club members were disturbing to me.  Some of the women seemed to be prison groupies for Libby’s brother.

The conclusion of the murder mystery was well conceived and written.   But, again, it just made me sad.  So many bad decisions by all involved.  Ugh…

I may read another Gillian Flynn novel.  She has a talent for storytelling.  I saw an interview with her where she was asked about these awful stories she writes and how she separates herself to try to have a normal life with her family.  She said that she writes in the basement and leaves her ‘crazy’ down there.  I hope she can continue to do that for her family’s sake.  Whew.

4/5 stars but I can’t say it was an enjoyable read.

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