Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Title: Dark Places: A Novel
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Crown (May 5, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0307341569
ISBN-13: 978-0307341563
Author's Website:
Notes: Library Loan, not for the faint of heart as this one has a lot of violent scenes toward people and animals.

Over 24 years ago the Day family was devastated in a single night. A mother killed. Two daughters slaughtered. A son accused. Only one child remained unharmed and unscathed, but only on the surface. Libby's whole world crumbled within that single 24 hour span. What her brother did still haunts her. Scares her. Makes her wonder if she too is capable... 

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

To this day she can't think of all she lost, of her loving mother and sisters and all that she no longer has, without those terrible last moments and  images of her family infringing on her fond memories...

"I can never dwell in these thoughts. I’ve labeled the memories as if they were a particularly dangerous region: Darkplace. Linger too long in an image of my mom trying to jury-rig the blasted coffeemaker again or of Michelle dancing around in her jersey nightgown, tube socks pulled up to her knees, and my mind would jerk into Darkplace. Maniacal smears of bright red sound in the night. That inevitable, rhythmic axe, moving as mechanically as if it were chopping wood. Shotgun blasts in a small hallway. The panicked, jaybird cries of my mother, still trying to save her kids with half her head gone."

Those memories can still quickly be recalled from the dark recesses of her mind at a moments notice. She's never been able to truly leave that dark place which happened so many years ago. It's left its mark upon her and effected her whole life...

“I am, I guess, depressed. I guess I've been depressed for about twenty-four years. I can feel a better version of me somewhere in there - hidden behind a liver or attached to a bit of spleen within my stunted, childish body - a Libby that's telling me to get up, do something, grow up, move on."

Now, at another low point in her life, Libby Day finds herself on the verge of  financial bankruptcy when she is approached by someone willing to pay her for her memories of that fatal night. A person asking her to unlock her own memories and gain access to police files and the memories of others to piece together what truly happened that awful night. Desperate enough to agree to the thing she once vowed never to do, she'll plunge full force into the past. Will she find the closure she never has by finding out what truly happened that night or rip the band-aid off and open a wound that has still never truly ever healed?  After all, as the only surviving witness, how reliable was the testimony of a seven year old child? What if her memories and accusations were somehow flawed and she helped imprison an innocent man--the only living relative she truly considers family, her brother, Ben?


Gillian Flynn's books are dark. They tend to show you the darker side of human nature which lurks within most people and the way one might act upon it. This can make some uncomfortable. She excels at what she does and what she does is make you think, open your eyes, and see the uglier side of society that she expertly spears with the point of her pen and artfully displays them for all to see. To use a quote from the book, she reveals that, “The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty - we all have it.” 

Libby Day was seven years old when the majority of her family was killed. She still remembers bits,  pieces and snippets of what happened, but she has never known the full extent of all the evidence they had on her brother when he was arrested for the crime. Now approached by Lyle Wirth who is part of a 'Kill' club where members try to piece together famous murder scenes a bit like detectives, he and many others are convinced her brother is innocent and wants her to help him find out what truly happened that horrific night. Never truly having done anything with her life, she desperately needs the money he's offering and while she doesn't believe he'll find anything to disagree with the police's conclusions, she's willing to comply with his request although begrudgingly. What she finds, however, is more than she ever imagined, and a long list of possible suspects slowly start to come to light. People the police never even considered as all their attention focused on her brother.

I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed this cautionary tale that shows just how what you do and say can potentially harm both you and others around you in unpredictable ways. It delves into our darkest nature and shocks you with the fact something like this could and probably has happened. It touches on subjects usually left untouched and untold thereby making you a little bit squeamish. I enjoyed how all is eventually revealed little by little and the whole of it all is nothing like what I would have imagined. I love Gillian's books because they're so different from most of the books I read and leave you with much to ponder.

Interview with Gillian Flynn about Dark Places:

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