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review 2017-10-02 03:16
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

Here's the thing. I was sort of happy to read this, even though dark fiction isn't really my thing, because it was partly set in my stomping grounds. A book set in Kansas City? Woot! Bring it!

 

I should have known better - I should have known a book about the train-wrecked lives of the survivors of a prairie style satanic axe/knife/gun/strangulation murder of a family would probably not really paint the picture of Midwest life that I was so hoping. I know, surprise, surprise. Sometimes my optimism shocks even me.

 

Libby Day, youngest daughter of the Day family, survived a brutal night that took her entire family from her, killing her two sisters and mother, and jailing Ben Day, her only brother and presumed murderer. Twenty-four years later, Libby is out of charity money, utterly broke and the very definition of maladjusted.

 

Desperate to avoid working for money, Libby finds a unique opportunity with a local group called the Kill Club. This club of amateur sleuths dedicated to solving cold cases believes that Ben Day is innocent and is willing to pay Libby to help them solve the murder. Libby finds that the truth becomes more irresistible to her than she previously imagined. She becomes brave, digging through her past, both in boxes and on doorsteps, until she uncovers the dangerous and devastating truth.

 

I commend Gillian's tight plotting. I love when a story is crafted well from beginning to end and you can visualize the loop towards the close. What wasn't so great for me was that I had the mystery nearly guessed. Sort of took the wind out of the sails at the climax.

 

This wasn't so dark that I loathed everything - the characters were appropriately messed up, if I may state it that way, and not quite as off putting as I imagined. It didn't put me off from trying another and think that I will Sharp Objects a try.

 

 

 

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review 2017-05-04 18:11
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas of 1985 has left an indelible mark on Libby Day. She survived and her older brother was put away for killing his mother and 2 of his 3 younger sisters. Libby was shuffled from house to house as a kid and once she made it to adulthood, charity provided her a life with little responsibilities. Now the money has run out and Libby has to move on with her life one way or another, such as getting a job. However, she has no life skills. So when she’s approached by Lyle Wirth from The Kill Club about selling some childhood mementos and perhaps giving a talk about her past, she’s tempted by the money. It’s the first step to delving into her past and with that comes a path forward to the rest of her life.

I picked this one up on a whim. I was looking for something a bit darker, something with some mystery to it, and this book did not disappoint. The author gave me so many characters that were absolutely fascinating even if they weren’t likable. There were times when I wanted to both slap Libby and root for her. She has more strength in her than she knows and through this journey she learns a little about that. The tale is dark and at times rather gritty and yet there is so much hope in this story. Libby survived a horrendous thing and yet she has done nothing with her life other than skate by. Her brother, Ben, was in a difficult, frustrated place before the event and Libby hasn’t spoken to him since that day. Ben hasn’t been able to tell the full truth of the event all these years. Then there’s Lyle, who’s part of this Kill Club. I was on the fence about him for much of the book but in the end I liked him.

Speaking of that Kill Club – what a creepy idea! Though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were such things. Think scifi convention except it’s for folks who closely follow serial murders or massacres or unsolved murder cases. Many of the participants are retired police or investigators. Some of the more macabre participants dress up as the perpetrators or victims. All of them have their own theories of how things went down. The Day Massacre (AKA the Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee) is no exception. I really felt for Libby when she met with these folks and some of them were down right combative over the facts of the case. And yet it’s also so obvious that Libby has never really reflected on that night, peered into her memory and taken stock of the known facts. Once again, I had split feelings towards the Kill Club. I wanted to tell them to get a real hobby but also applaud them for pushing Libby into exploring the little mysteries about that night that were still unanswered. It takes a talented author to keep pushing me as a reader in this fashion.

The hunt for the truth was well done. There are flashbacks throughout the tale told from both Ben Day’s teen self and also from Libby’s mom’s point of view. Patty Day was in a tricky place back then, trying to raise all her kids on her own, working all the time, and occasionally getting a shake down from her ex-husband. As Libby looks through her childhood mementos (trying to decide what to sell to the Kill Club enthusiasts), memories come back and she has questions she wants answered. There’s plenty of characters showing off their darker sides and then there’s some characters that simply made bad mistakes.

The ending had a twist that I didn’t see coming until just before it happened. Wow! Yeah. That explained several things but was also tough and touching at the same time. People are capable of great evil but also capable of great sacrifice. This book is definitely one I will be thinking about for some time to come.

The Narration: The narration was really good for this book. I’m not sure who did which roles, but all the character voices were distinct and each narrator did a great job with voices for the opposite sex. Rebecca Lowman, Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins, and Robertson Dean made a great cast for this book. Whichever lady that voiced Libby did such a lovely job with her myriad of feelings. Sometimes Libby was snotty and disrespectful and sometimes she was thoughtful and trying her best to absorb some hard truths. The main voice actor for Ben did a great job there as well. He was a teen boy in a house full of females struggling to impress his fellow highschoolers and he sounded every inch of it.

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review 2016-12-14 14:09
Dark Places
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

Libby Day's two older sisters, Michelle and Debby, and her mother, Patty, were murdered in their home. The murder was known as "The Satan Sacrifice" - a Satanic bloodbath with hateful words smeared on the walls. Libby was only seven-years-old when she testified that her fifteen-year-old brother Ben was the one who killed them. Twenty-five years have passed without Libby ever visiting Ben. A member of a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes contacts Libby in hopes of finding proof that will set Ben free. Libby only wants money, so she'll talk to the suspects from that night for a fee. As the truth comes out, she finds herself on the run from a killer. Again.

 

This book was raw and gritty. The characters were well-developed. I couldn't wait to find out what happened to the Day's that night and feared that with all the build up I would be disappointed. But I wasn't! I liked looking back at that day, as told by Ben and Patty, and seeing how all these little things went wrong and added to their frustration and desperation. A very dark and interesting read.

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review 2016-12-05 21:34
Dark Places
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn knows how to write a dark and twisted book, that's for sure. Dark Places kept me engaged and trying to figure out who killed the Day family. I wasn't sure at first about the multiple narration, but I ended up liking how it helped to keep me guessing. I had a few theories, and my main one was partially right. The fact I could never fully commit to my own theory is a credit to Flynn on a job well done. The only thing I want to nitpick on is that there were no likable characters. Sure I was rooting for Libby, but she wasn't exactly likable. Not a single likable character in the book -- waitresses, strangers, neighbors, friends... even Libby's cat. From their behavior to their appearance, they were all presented as unsavory. It kind of put me in an 'unbelievable' state. Despite that, a very good book and well worth the read.

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review 2016-06-19 00:00
Dark Places
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn This is a whodunit whose ending I guessed in half. Tchekov's gun is taken waaay too seriously in this book, so it made it easy to guess who did the murders.

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