The staple of a quality mystery or suspense novel is its ability to ripple a chill through the bones and up the spine. Just as she did her famous novel “Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn succeeds in providing readers with a dark thrill in her novel “Dark Places.” This story is not for the faint of heart, so be warned.
Protagonist Libby Day was only seven years old when her mother and two older sisters were murdered in their home. Libby survived, and testified against her 15-year-old brother Ben, pointing to him as the killer. Now, 25 years later, Libby’s life is still in shambles and Ben is in prison for life. When a secret group called the Kill Club approaches Libby, she agrees to work with them, hoping to profit off the tragedy. She reluctantly forces herself to think of that night and her coerced testimony, details she prefers to avoid at all costs. However, the more she investigates her family’s murder, the more she begins to suspect that Ben is not at fault at all.
Flynn is a talented writer, creating a dark world that feels grungy and full of despair, yet somehow holds hope for redemption and closure. She allows her story to unravel through different characters: present-day Libby’s perspective drives the investigation, while clues are given through Ben and Libby’s mother as each tells their story of the day leading up to the murders. Flynn has the ability to create a distinct voice for each character. She gives personality and a sliver of hope to each mind, while still keeping a drone of depression and desolation. Plus, Flynn is not to be underestimated in her willingness to dive into the darkest depths of the human soul in order to produce a shocking twist.
“Dark Places” is true to its title, a fact that should be considered before opening the novel. Once past the first page, there is no putting the book down. A story of suspicion, accusations and family, Flynn’s novel is a thriller that can’t be ignored.