Have you read Gillian Flynn yet? If you like mystery, murder, and shocking twists, you definitely have to give her a try. Her debut novel, Sharp Objects, was amazing, and I just finished her novel Dark Places, which was just as awesome. There are just enough delectable details to make you feel like you know what happened, only for you to completely be wrong—and to say, “Ahh!” once you figure the whole thing out at the end. Everything works together in this perfectly twisted story full of chaos and randomness that somehow manages to remain engrossing and a downright blast to read. It’s like watching The Sixth Sense for the first time, before you get all the clues, but better.
Dark Places is about a woman in her thirties named Libby Day who isn’t successful at anything. A depressed kleptomaniac who cannot hold a job, does not really do boyfriends (or friends, for that matter), and struggles to simply fill the ice cube trays, she is the only witness to the murder of her two sisters and mother at the supposed hands of her brother, which occurred when she was only seven years old. But is Libby truly certain about the testimony that was coaxed out of her at such a tender age, after such an ordeal? That premise alone was enough to hook me in before even opening the book.
Flynn is so talented when it comes to both the plot itself as well as character development. Day is a character that many people would have simply written off—as are most of the other characters in the novel—without Flynn’s incredible nuance. Actions that do not seem as if they matter are huge in this story, as are coincidences that are later either key plot points—or such gross misunderstandings that readers will find themselves groaning aloud.
What I really love most about this novel is how messy it portrays not only crime scenes and court cases, but life itself. Victims, accused people, those deemed “innocent,” those labeled so easily by others—every single person has both desirable and undesirable traits and moments (well, some are just plain undesirable!). This writing aptly portrays the way life really works, especially how quickly we want to label someone “guilty” or “innocent” when facts can be so complicated and twisted that these two terms often do not belong in the equation at all!
Anyone who’s seen The Life of David Gale, Twelve Angry Men, or Dead Man Walking can attest to how complicated and certainly how erroneous the system can be whether one is truly guilty of a crime or not. What Dark Places adds to this media is a true sense of everyone involved—how every person brings not just a piece of the puzzle, but a whole separate picture entirely to consider.