As previously mentioned, whilst on a nice long train journey to Edinburgh, I read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. This was the first of her books I’d read and she’s part of a session titled America’s Got Talent, where John Connolly will introduce four of America’s ‘hottest’ new writers.
Well I certainly didn’t need to reach for my buzzer whilst reading this book, it was excellent. I couldn’t put it down for the whole journey, and managed to finish it off in the bar the same evening. A man is in prison for killing his family, all except his sister, Libby. Libby is now grown up and is the main focus of the book. During the first few pages you assume that she is a victim about to turn killer. She is not particularly likeable, and comes across as believing that the world owes her a living to make up for the horror she had to endure when young. The donations that were given when she was a child have now run out and as she’s never had a job her only option is to look at doing public appearances. This brings her in contact with a group who believe her brother innocent and her need for cash leads her to try and seek the truth about what happened that night.
What starts off as a book you expect to go down the revenge seeking assassin route (or maybe that’s just me as this one based on my previous read) actually turns into a clever who dunnit, seen from the view of Libby.
The book swops between present day and flashbacks. The flashback scenes start a few months before the murder of her family, as they struggle under the weight of debt and fear of losing the farm. Her brother is a bit of a loner, always wanting to be accepted by the popular older boys but always being on the outside. Her Mum is desperate to keep the family together no matter what the cost, and their father is an unpleasant waste of space.
I felt that this was an excellent story that kept the reader guessing to the end. If I had to describe this book in one word I would say ‘chilling’. The characters are not likeable, yet despite that I was riveted. I think using flashback can be a bit of a risky business sometimes, and leave you feeling that you know what is going to happen, before the protagonist you are following does. However this isn’t the case with Libby. Throughout the story you find out things pretty much as and when she does, which builds the impression that you really are seeing things through her eyes.
Each chapter offered up new clues, yet it wasn’t until you look back over the story that you realise they are there. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and looking forward to seeing her at the festival, hopefully without any appearances from Simon Cowell!