The “Satan Sacrifice” at the Day’s farm in Kinnakee, Kansas makes media waves in the late 80’s, but seven year old Libby Day is caught up in the storm. Her memories of the night are fuzzy, but she testifies that her brother, Ben Day, is the killer of her mother and two sisters. Today, Libby is struggling to get by. The money from donations, media coverage, and her unsuccessful memoir is gone. Accustomed to living off her tragedy, Libby strikes a deal with a club that obsesses over mysterious murders. She agrees to start digging up the past for money, but she gets a lot more than she expects out of the deal.
I read and loved Gone Girl earlier this year and could not find any other book to satisfy my thriller cravings until picking up Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. Hype be damned, Flynn is just good at writing thrillers. I’m no thriller connoisseur, but I have found a lot of tropes and similarities between the ones I have read. Though Flynn’s plots aren’t completely unique, she manages to take me by surprise often. There are three points of view in Dark Places. Of course we have Libby, but there are chapters with Ben and Patty (their mother) as the main characters. Ben and Patty’s chapters are rooted in the past while Libby’s focus on present day. All three characters’ chapters contain many details that overlap with the same events being seen in different perspectives. I really love this as it shows how differently people interpret the same conversations or actions. I wish the supporting characters were fleshed out a bit (I often confused the names of Libby’s sisters) and I want to know more about certain plot points, but I felt mostly satisfied with the way that the novel ended.
The novel was not perfect, but what book truly is? With thrillers and mysteries I usually find a plot hole, some event that doesn’t really make sense, or something that leans too heavily on coincidence. I did find something of that nature in Dark Places, but it was just so fun to read. I love the feeling when I read a book and simply cannot put it down. Even when I have to take a break from the book, it is stuck in my head. That is what Dark Places did to me and– I hope– will do to you.