Sunday, 4 January 2015

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Having already read and liked Gone Girl, I came to Dark Places with high expectations. All I can say is those expectations were exceeded and then some. Gillian Flynn hooked me in from the very first page and the story consumed me until the very end. It's a story that centres itself around the Day family, a family whose motto bemoans the fact that they never have any luck. A motto that seems to be borne out when three members of the family are slain and another one is convicted of their murders.

The murders take place in the early hours of January 3rd 1985 and the story is told from three points of view. The present day narrator is the youngest child Libby Day but her story is interspersed with an account of the day before the murders, told through the mother, Patty Day and the son Ben who was subsequently convicted of the murders.The most compelling character for me, maybe because hers is the only account told in the first person, is Libby. Traumatised by the murder of her family, she has retreated into a crab like shell but her inner life and silent observations of the people around her are hilarious.

The real strength of this book, in my opinion, is the way Flynn has created characters who we should despise but who instead we connect with and can't help but like. Even the feckless father who has abandoned his family is humanised in such a way we don't completely hate him. By the end, the novel leaves us with a small hope that maybe the Days' luck could be about to get better but nothing's certain with this story and that's what I loved about it.

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