Review: Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

dark placesLibby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her borther’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

Rating: 4/5

Dark Places is my third book by Gillian Flynn, so I was well-prepared for the disturbing psychological nature of the story to follow. And it was a great read, despite the gruesome nature of the crime which forms the central plot of the book.

A few things stood out for me, namely, the poverty and the desperate measures it drives people to, the sheer cruelty of teenagers to those who are different, the lengths people will go to to protect others, and how guilty people can appear when those from the outside take a closer look at their lives.

As with all Flynn’s novels, the main female character is an unlikeable one, but this isn’t a criticism – as I read somewhere, it’s excellent that we are obtaining problematic female characters in a genre mostly dominated by men, and where women are usually cardboard cutouts to further the development of the man.

Furthermore, you can’t help but feel sympathy for Libby Day, despite her methods of obtaining cash by exploiting the interest in her family tragedy, and her kleptomaniac tendencies. The novel also takes a good hard look at our culture’s collective fascination for brutal crimes, the constant speculation of ‘whodunnit’, the vicarious entertainment we find. And there are those who take it even further, as depicted in the book – forming clubs centered around prolific crimes, playing detective, and creating a hobby out of the macabre.

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