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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

sharp objectsWhen the waiting list is a mile long on an author’s newest release, sometimes you have to mine their back catalog.  Such is the case with Gillian Flynn’s books – Sharp Objects was way easier to get than Gone Girl, her latest.

Camille Preaker is a thirty-something cub reporter working for a second string newspaper in Chicago.  Her editor learns of two murders involving young girls that have taken place in Camille’s hometown of Wind Gap, a small town in southeastern Missouri. He eagerly sends her down to cover the more recent crime, figuring that Camille has the insider’s advantage for a breaking story, which the newspaper badly needs.

The two related cases are not fun to crack.  The victims were both abduction cases whose bodies were later found.   There’s only one witness to the disappearance of the last girl, and he (a young boy) is considered unreliable.

To make it worse, Camille barely has the cooperation of the local sheriff.  He resents her as a member of the press and disdains the detective sent from Kansas City to investigate the case.

Revisiting her hometown also forces Camille to face her wealthy family, with whom she stays during her reporter’s tenure.  It’s difficult, to say the least – Camille’s mother is cold toward her, her stepfather barely acknowledges her, and her much younger half-sister is spoiled and displays moods ranging from bratty child to slutty thirteen year old.  To say her family has skeletons in the closet is a huge understatement.

Camille uses every contact she can remember – her mother’s cronies, former high school friends, the bereaved families of the two girls – to round out what she hopes to be a worthy feature story.  And sometimes she steps on the wrong toes…

Sharp Objects is relentless page turner that does not let up until the end, at which the reader gets dropped from all expectations.  When starting the book, I thought the plot could easily be cliche-ridden, but Flynn is a fresh enough writer to utilize the usual storytelling conventions and create some of her own – she’s definitely become a writer to watch.

Flynn has two others – the bestselling Gone Girl and her second, Dark Places.  They’re on my reading list.

(William Hicks, Information Services)


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