After struggling to remember who Neil Patrick Harris is supposed to play in the movie, I decided I needed a reread of Gone Girl, so that I am properly prepared to see the movie with the appropriate mix of excitement and righteous indignation.
Gone Girl opens on the day of Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Nick and Amy moved to Missouri two years ago after losing their jobs in New York City. In addition, most of Amy’s trust fund from her parents’ Amazing Amy book series is gone, used to bail out her parents’ financial situation and to lend money to Nick’s upstart bar business. The deterioration of their relationship culminates when Amy disappears on the day of their anniversary. Suspicion immediately falls on Nick, who struggles to exonerate himself as evidence stacks up against him (including his mistress, piles of credit card pills, and Amy’s damning diary).
Rereading this book and knowing the twists that are in store did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of Gone Girl. In fact, on reread, I picked up on more of the subtle clues in the first half than I did before, as well as parallels between Nick and Amy earlier in the storytelling. It’s a great thriller and diverges from my past experience with mysteries in a lot of ways: it is not told from the perspective of the cops or similar investigators (all of these people become simply players in Amy’s game) and there is not a good guy to be found. In Nick and Amy, Flynn has created two very flawed and generally unlikeable protagonists. Although neither end up punished by the justice system, Flynn also devises the perfect punishment for them both: spending their lives together
After I first read Gone Girl, I also went out and found Gillian Flynn’s other two earlier works: Sharp Objects and Dark Places. These books were equally disturbing and unconventional (with a whole lot of creepy thrown in) and notably much more gruesome, putting the reader directly in the mess of graphic murders. While those were good mysteries, I liked that in Gone Girl, the focus is primarily on what is going on in the characters’ heads. The only bloody parts in Gone Girl either are imagined or happen “off-screen.”
Most of all, Gone Girl is a smartly put together book, full of riddles, red herrings, and devious characters – my favorite.