Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark placesAs an adult, Libby Day lives a jaded existence.

When she was seven, Libby survived a 1985 massacre that included her mother and sisters as victims.  Twenty-four years later, she is living off the residuals of a trust fund set up by benefactors and her brother Ben is in prison for his role in the killings.  He’s basically there on Libby’s testimony, flawed though it may be.

As her trust fund dwindles to nothing, Libby is interested in making some fast cash.  When she is contacted by the Kill Club, a group obsessed by murders and their aftermaths, she sees their keen interest in her case as a money-making opportunity.  Libby has plenty of family memorabilia that she can hock, and she can always rehash the grisly details, if that’s what they want – for a price.

At first, Libby is somewhat surprised with their reactions to her.  Many of the Kill Club members maintain that Ben is innocent, and want more concrete proof from her besides her childhood memories.  As such, Libby gets far more involved with the case than she ever imagined.  With prompting from Lyle, her contact with the Kill Club, she rekindles a talking relationship with her brother, and searches out other people who could have been implicated in the crime, including their no-good father and other questionable characters that seemed to disappear after the case broke open.  There’s just too many secrets and somebody still wants them kept that way – and Libby finds this out in an unexpected circumstance.

At first, I wasn’t sure I would like Dark Places.  Libby is not a nice person at all.  She’s a liar and a thief, and doesn’t care.  Her childhood trauma was all too real, but her adulthood is a shambles – Libby basically can’t, or won’t, make a living for herself if she tried.    You find out, however, that she has a certain resourcefulness under trying situations that makes her sympathetic, if not admirable.  And, in the course of the novel, you meet quite a few characters that are more screwed-up than she is.

Dark Places flip-flops chapters between the day of the killings and the present.  Once you get used to the time jumps, the pages fly by.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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