DARK PLACES | GILLIAN FLYNN | BOOK REVIEW

Kernel Kate reviews DARK PLACES, the follow up book from GONE GIRL author, Gillian Flynn. DARK PLACES is already a movie released in the US starring Charlize Theron (as per the updated book cover below) and one of my faves, Nicholas Hoult, seeing him back together with Theron onscreen again – what a day, what a lovely day :). The movie has not received huge love from overseas critics and I am not sure as to why but still no release date for Australia! The trailer looks good! (Trailer is at the bottom of Kate’s review). DARK PLACES, the book, was recently re-released in Australia with the movie tie-in cover from Hachette Australia but the original novel came out in August 2010. If you haven’t read it yet you can purchase it from most bookstores or from HERE. Enjoy Kate’s review and have a great day……………JK.

 

DARK PLACES | GILLIAN FLYNN | BOOK COVER IMAGE
DARK PLACES | GILLIAN FLYNN | SALTY POPCORN BOOK REVIEW | BOOK COVER IMAGE

 

BY KATE DAWES

With a soon to be released film adaptation staring Charlize Theron, Gillian Flynn’s DARK PLACES is an engrossing, easy to read thriller. Though somewhat lacking the charisma of GONE GIRL, DARK PLACES gives us a twisting, fast paced narrative with a relatable protagonist despite being a self-described liar, thief and generally unlikeable person.

25 years after Libby Day’s brother, Ben, was arrested for murdering her family in the night we find Libby short of life skills and fast running out of cash. Having lived a life that stalled that night when she was six and leaving her an angry and difficult child shunted between her remaining family members for as long as they could handle her she has become an adult who has lived on the charity of others who donated after media coverage of the case. Fast running out of money and faced with having to leave the safety of her home where she has hidden away from the outside world for years Libby receives a letter with the intriguing offer of making money just for being herself. Fast discovering the offer is from an amateur crime solving society obsessed with her family Libby finds herself having to question things she had been sure of all these years, namely that her brother is guilty and that she was right in delivering the testimony which secured his conviction.

Told in a three person narrative for much of it’s 420-page length, alternating between Libby piecing events together in the present day that she had either been unaware of as a traumatised 6yr old or not cared to learn later, and the voices of her mother ‘the victim’ and her brother ‘the killer’ the reader gets the chance to piece things together as Libby does racing to solve the mystery before she does and wondering if we should side with Ben’s fan club that are so sure he’s innocent, Libby’s original conviction that she saw and heard him do it or other more sinister suspects altogether. In the end as we gather all the evidence will we find everything neatly fitting together or are some family secrets best left hidden?

 

GILLAIN FLYNN AUTHOR IMAGE
DARK PLACES | GILLIAN FLYNN | SALTY POPCORN BOOK REVIEW | GILLIAN FLYNN AUTHOR IMAGE

 

As DARK PLACES moves past the set up into the alternate options in this “whodunnit” regular readers of crime fiction thrillers may feel like there are a few too many cliched choices available. From an absent, drinking, gambling father who disappeared after the event, to the mysterious satan worshipping loners our prime suspect seemed to be friends with two angry townsfolk wronged by the various exploits of the various family members. The way this novel draws these options back to credibility is to remind us of news stories and other small truths we’ve stuck in the back of our minds, other supposed cases of devil worshiping murder contemporary to this time frame for instance which made world news and rationalise the thought process of the characters to the point of believability.

The multi-character narration which features in Flynn’s work is not quite as defined here as in GONE GIRL and while we see different aspects of the story from different characters’ points of view and see timelines and events play out in ways only the character speaking could have shown us their language seems less individual in each character than Nick and Amy of GONE GIRL were. Perhaps this owes something to the nature of the Ben and Patty narratives being set in the past on the day leading up to and the day of Patty’s murder whereas Libby’s narrative is all set present day. Whatever the reason Libby presents us a more rounded character who despite assuring us of her unlikeable qualities turns out to show real strength and likeability developing as we see her come out of her shell and spend more time exploring the real world and interacting with other people.

The real twist in this story comes late in the book and for those of us who pride ourselves on solving the mystery before the character do the real fun is trying to figure out if you’re being thrown red herrings or you were right all along and with the final pay off not being delivered until the final 20 pages Flynn keeps us guessing until the end.

 

3 and a Half Pops