“Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Who did massacre the Day family?” (Goodreads)
The final installment in what I guess I could call my “Gillian Flynn Series” is Dark Places. Once again Flynn explores the dark undebelly of humanity in the intense, sardonic way I’ve come to know and appreciate. Libby Day has had a rough life. Her dad was a drunk, weaving in and out of his childrens lives as it suited him (i.e. when he needed money), and her mother was an exhausted single mom of 4 children who could barely afford one of them. Libby had always been a worrier, but one night in January when Libby was 7 years old she had good reason to worry when her entire family was brutally murdered, except her and her 15 year old brother Ben. Libby escaped by crawling out a window and hiding in the freezing woods until the police found her. To top that all off, she then testified for the prosecution of her brother and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Twenty-some years later, Libby has been living off a fund of donations her whole life and she’s running out of money. In a strange attempt to get some money – she agrees to make an appearance at Kill Club, a sort of comic-con for those obsessed with unsovled or famous murder cases. Turns out there is a lot of interest in her families case – and most of that comes from women who are obsessed with her brother and proclaim his innocence. As uncomfortable as it is for Libby to face the idea that her brother may not have committed these murders, she is desparate for money and ends up going on a journey back in time to piece together what really happened that night.
As most of Flynn’s narrators are, Libby is decidedly unlikeable. Cynical, sarcastic, blatantly rude and has a penchant for sticky fingers (she is constantly stealing the most inane items from places). But, you feel like she deserves a little empathy after everything she has seen. Getting the story through her point of view, you find yourself just as hesitent to believe what strangers are saying about her brother’s innocence. The information that we are given points all fingers towards him. However, beyond Libby’s narrative we get flashbacks from the point of view of Ben and their mother Patty – we slowly realize all is not as it seems and Libby is in for quite the shock.
Beyond Libby, there is quite a cast of characters. From her dad, Runner – the career drunk, gambler and manipulator, to Diondra – Ben’s girlfriend who is her own brand of batshit insane, and the crowd of “devil worshippers” Ben was said to hang out with, there is once again not one innocent soul within this novel. Even Patty, who was a well meaning mother that only wanted the best for her children has her nasty faults, and plays her own part in the massacre of two of her children. Or the young girl who accuses Ben of sexual molestation, which may or may not be entirely truthful – I’ll let you decide.
At the end of the day, it’s clear that Gillian Flynn is good at what she does and what she does best is the dark, gritty, surprising and ugly disection of the human condition. I look forward to reading whatever she puts out next – and I think she has some serious staying power in the literary world.
With twist and turns that will keep you guessing, Dark Places, will simultaneously confuse, suprise and sicken you with each coming chapter.
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.89 Stars
Number of 1 Star Reviews: 1607
My Review on Bookdigits