Twenty-five years ago Libby Day’s family was murdered in the middle of the night. She escaped and named her older brother, Ben, as their murderer. After depleting the fund set up for her through donations and managed by a local banker Libby is desperate for some quick cash. She finds Lyle and his “kill club” who are obsessed with finding the true killer of her family; and they are willing to pay Libby to find the information. It’s a convenient set up but it works for the premise of the book. Every other chapter is narrated by a present day Libby and then goes back in time to the day of the murders alternating between Ben’s and Patty, Libby’s mother’s, perspective.
As the past unfolds you learn about Patty’s increasingly devastating money troubles, Ben’s girlfriend Diondra and a secret they’re both keeping from their parents as well as an ongoing investigation into Ben’s behavior while volunteering at the local middle school.
“The Days were a clan that mighta lived long
But Ben Day’s head got screwed on wrong
That boy craved dark Satan’s power
So he killed his family in one nasty hour
Little Michelle he strangled in the night
Then chopped up Debby: a bloody sight
Mother Patty he saved for last
Blew off her head with a shotgun blast
Baby Libby somehow survived
But to live through that ain’t much a life
—SCHOOLYARD RHYME, CIRCA 1985”
Libby gets more involved with Lyle and begins to doubt her 7 year old self; she begins to investigate the murders with a bit more earnest and starts to unravel the past.
Dark Places is pretty fantastic, but I have come to expect that from Gillian Flynn. It has some creepy moments and a dark subject matter but is perhaps a bit toned down in comparison to Sharp Objects. Either way it is a must read!