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After reading Dark Places it’s become clear to me that Gillian Flynn is a highly competent author of thriller–suspense, despite having not yet read her most recent novel, Gone Girl. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dark Places already has a movie deal, starring Charlize Theron as the tale’s narrator and protagonist Libby Day. If the book is anything to go by, then it is going to be a very dark and gritty film.
Dark Places follows Libby as the sole survivor of a massacre that claimed the lives of her mother and two sisters in what appears to be a Satanic cult ritual. The murderer, she testifies, is her older brother Ben. Twenty-five years later, Libby accidentally meets the president of a secret group, The Kill Club, whose objective is to research and uncover the mysteries of notorious crimes. Her family’s murder is of great interest to them, and they offer her money in exchange for the raw facts she can recollect.
Libby initially accepts their proposition as she is struggling financially; however, they soon begin to pressure her to acquit her brother of the crime, claiming they have evidence that he is in fact innocent. She stands by her accusation but launches an investigation of her own—and it’s not long before she realises that she may still be in danger after all.
Dark Places is a raw and sinister book that deals with Satanism, murder, manipulation and selfishness. Quite frankly, there is no-one in this novel who is genuinely likeable—indeed Libby, the purported victim of the crime, may be considered an anti-hero given that she seems quite content to live off the donations offered by sympathetic parties twenty-five years after the massacre took place. In short, everyone in the book has done something terrible and ruined someone else’s life.
Although Dark Places was an extremely engaging read—proof that Flynn has an undeniable talent for building suspense—the actual ending which revealed the key to all of the carefully spun mysteries fell a little flat. To my mind, this is because the book is a little too lengthy. That said, Flynn has definitely got me interested in thrillers now, and I trust in her ability as an author of horror and intrigue. So if you want a dark and disturbing book that realistically portrays unlikeable characters in appalling circumstances, then Dark Places is highly recommended.