Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review of "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn

On a tragic evening 25 years ago farm-owner Patty Day and two of her young daughters, Debby and Michelle, were slaughtered. Seven-year-old Libby Day survived and her brother, fifteen-year-old Ben Day was convicted of the crimes and imprisoned. Libby testified against Ben, is convinced of his guilt, and has had nothing to do with him for a quarter century.

As an adult Libby lived off a fund donated by a sympathetic public, but now, at she age of thirty-one, her money is depleted. Libby - a traumatized, maladjusted, petty thief who is barely able to get out of bed, much less keep a job - happens across a new way to make money. Members of an organization called 'The Kill Club', who study crime, believe Ben Day is innocent and are trying to get him freed. They're willing to fund Libby if she'll talk to people they view as suspects/persons of interest. Libby agrees and, after talking to Ben, begins to waver in her belief that he's guilty.

The story alternates between events that occurred 25 years ago and what is happening today. Between Libby's current investigation and flashbacks to events leading to the murders, we learn about various characters: Ben was a troubled, angst-ridden teen, ashamed of his family's poverty, who fell in with a bad crowd. His story makes up a good part of the book. Patty's husband Runner Day, instrumental in bankrupting the farm, was an absentee dad who came home only to ask for money; Patty, exhausted physically and mentally by the age of thirty-two, couldn't cope with her four children and was barely able to scrape together money to feed them. Various other characters, including Patty's sister, a banker, Ben's friends, members of The Kill Club, etc., round out the story.

The book made me uncomfortable at times because most of the characters are unlikable people who behave badly. It would be a spoiler to tell more so I'll just say the book has many threads which are skillfully woven together to lead to the twisty, satisfying conclusion. This is a well-written mystery, highly recommended.

Rating: 4 stars


  1. Sounds like a perfect next book for Flynn. Good review, too. I too like at least one likable character in my stories.

    1. Thank you Jacqui. I think Gillian Flynn leans toward sort of outrageous characters :)