Libby Day was 7 years old when her brother murdered her mother and two sisters. Libby has spent 25 years believing that, and not particularly caring about it, but now she is finally starting to question what really happened on the night her family was killed-- not because of any curiosity of her own but because she has run out of money to live on and the only way she has of making money is by finding out information for a fan group that is obsessed with notorious crimes.
First let me say that Dark Places by Gillian Flynn is technically well written. Flynn does a masterful job of developing her characters; Libby, for instance, is not particularly likable, is largely out only for what she can get by sponging off of others. Her mother, before she was killed, is frequently lost and bewildered as event around her seem to spin out of control. Her father is a drunken sot who, like Libby, has lived his entire life sponging off of others and taking whatever he can get.
Flynn also does a good job of describing the setting-- this is no idealized view of poverty, no heroic mother scrubbing toilets by night so her children can have a better life by day. This is a family who is just barely holding it together and a mother who is just barely able to cope-- and sometimes doesn't cope.
So for that, I commend Flynn for creating such a believable picture of the rural poor in a small, midwestern community. But I have to wonder why she would write such a nasty, dirty sort of book, and I mean dirty not in the colloquial sense but dirty in the sense of grime, the type of grime that accumulates when a place is never, ever cleaned.
There were actually two resolutions to the book, one of which was a surprise and the other of which was pretty obvious. The book just barely held my interest, and I was really glad when it was over.
So if you are looking for an escape from reality, this book is not it. It's probably a little too close to reality for many folks. However, if you want to read a not particularly riveting psychological study of not particularly savory people, then give this a try.
Flynn's novel has the effect of blunt force trauma. With icy precision and an eye for the consequences of poverty and despair, this novel hums with discordance and the chronic misery of a family mired in unhappiness. In January, 1985, Libby Day is the survivor of a family massacre, at seven years old the only witness to the murder of her mother and two sisters on their Kansas farm. Libby's brother, Ben, has spent the last twenty-five years in jail for what an avid press describes … more
For 25 years, Libby Day has avoided revisiting her memories of the horrendous night in which she heard someone murder her mother and sisters. It was her own testimony, as a 5 year old, that sent her older brother to prison for life. Now Libby is barely functioning as an independent adult. She desperately needs money, and agrees to consult with a club of murder groupies who believe her brother is innocent. It isn't long before everything she is forced to re-examine everything she knows is true. And … more
This is one of those books that pulls you in from the very first page; in this case a poem about the murders of the family. The poem is catchy in itself and reminds me of many form my own school days. Then you delve into Libby Day (the sole survivor years later) and her point of view. Right off I was addicted but also, dementedly, wishing the book actually covered that first murder. All was not lost though as flashbacks quickly played from other times and other player's points of view; and Libby … more
I really enjoyed this author's last novel "Sharp Objects" and so was interested in reading her new one. This one did not disappoint: it's a frightening story of murder and mayhem, and reminds one of the brutal farmhouse killings written about in Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". This massacre, however, has a survivor, a 7 year old,whose court testimony sends her teen-age brother to jail for life. 25 years pass, and a now almost penniless woman decides to make some money by … more
Dark Places is a nasty little book in all the right ways. Twenty-five years ago, while seven-year-old Libby Day hid and listened, her mother and two older sisters were massacred in their Kansas farmhouse, a crime for which her brother is serving a life sentence. Now 32, Libby has, in her own words, "a meanness" inside her. She's also blown through every dime of the money donated to her cause after the murders, and has no idea of how she's going to earn her keep until she's … more
Flynn's novel has the effect of blunt force trauma. With icy precision and an eye for the consequences of poverty and despair, this novel hums with discordance and the chronic misery of a family mired in unhappiness. In January, 1985, Libby Day is the survivor of a family massacre, at seven years old the only witness to the murder of her mother and two sisters on their Kansas farm. Libby's brother, Ben, has spent the last twenty-five years in jail for what an avid press describes as "The Satan Sacrifice … more