In TV crime procedurals, the first part of the obvious formula includes the introduction of a red herring character, someone who is too obvious, and the detectives will waste a bunch of time trying to stick that person to the wall before finding a breakthrough that leads them to the actual suspect. Gillian Flynn’s version of this is that EVERYONE is obvious. All of the characters have the means and the disposition to have done it, if not the exact motive, but who needs motive when you’re crazy and trashy and everyone thinks you’d definitely murder someone anyway? So solving the mystery of Dark Places is less about whodunit? and more about howitdun, because you’re not exactly surprised by the “who” — it makes perfect sense, as it would have for many of them — but you want to know how the thing unfolded.
From Goodreads: “Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.
Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?
She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.
Who did massacre the Day family?”
Dark Places features another Flynn specialty: the unlikeable heroine. Well, I’m just going to put this out there: I liked Libby. Not as a person I’d want to know in real life — she’s a moody, disaffected kleptomaniac with definite survivor’s guilt and unresolved psychological trauma — but even as an unreliable narrator, she had an undeniable voice. Even with her caustic humor and manipulative tendencies, there’s a compelling humanity in there that had me focusing more on the good in her than being put off by her more negative qualities.
It goes without saying that even the “best” of the supporting characters are also flawed and/or creepy as hell. As I said earlier, while it’s not true that the killer is telegraphed or that the story is predictable, when you find out who it is you’re like, “Well, okay, sure.”
I feel like this review isn’t doing the book justice, because I really enjoyed it. I find it hard to believe if reader-types haven’t already heard of Gillian Flynn, so I suspect if this book isn’t already on your TBR, it’s for a reason. Myself, if I knew how much I was going to enjoy it, I wouldn’t have kept it on the back-burner for so long. That’s as good of praise as I can give outside of high-pitched squealing and jumping up and down, and this isn’t that kind of book.