Guest Editor Kristy McCormick
The second novel from author Gillian Flynn, Dark Places is a book that hooks you in from the very first page. It is intense, as dark as the title suggests and filled with real despair and heartache.
Dark places is the story of the Day family, and in particular Libby Day. Libby is just seven years old when her mother and sisters are killed in a murderous rampage. Libby manages to escape the killer but at what cost? Her fifteen year old brother, Ben, is convicted of the murders on the strength of little Libby\’s testimony and at the beginning of the story has been in prison for 24 years. Libby has survived those years living off the proceeds of donations from well wishers. But the money is running out and Libby needs to find a way to live.
She reluctantly accepts an offer of money to do a guest appearance for a group of true crime obsessives â€“ people who, as it turns out, believe her brother is innocent of the crime. The offers of money continue to grow and so Libby\’s quest to find out what really happened that night and to determine if her testimony was accurate begins.
The story is told from the perspectives of Libby, her mother and brother, and the narrative moves smoothly from present day Libby back to 1985 and the day of the murders. The chapters told from the point of view of Libby\’s mother and brother detail the family\’s difficult life, the way they struggled and fought to survive every day and the series of tragic events that took place in the lead up to the shocking final act. For me, it was these chapters that made the most compulsive reading. The story that Patty and Ben Day relate is compelling, nail-biting stuff, the pages literally hum with a tension that only serves to make you turn them more and more quickly. It is this suspense from the shifting narrative that seems to keep the story going â€“ and believe me when you get to the end the final revelations will leave you breathless!
This book is not predictable, it does not have a nice neat ending â€“ in fact there is really nothing â€˜nice\’ about this book. It is filled with characters that you either feel desperately sorry for or you loath with a passion. And the ones in between these two extremes are generally downright pathetic. And even though you know the outcome for these characters â€“ after all it is the premise of the whole book â€“ you can\’t help but hope for them and still be shocked to the core at what comes to light as the book progresses.
Having said all that though â€“ this book is brilliant! It is a compelling, scary and altogether too realistic read. The plot is deceptively difficult and I had no idea what was coming at the end â€“and I like to think I\’m a pretty seasoned thriller reader! It is definitely a book that will keep you up all night reading â€“ and then up all the next night thinking. It is gory though and as I said previously not a â€˜nice\’ read but if you are a fan of thrillers that get you thinking and aren\’t just filled with mindless killing then I would highly recommend Dark places.
Available now: Hachette RRP$32.99