I read Gone Girl when it first came out and loved it; Sharp Objects a few months which was great but not as good as Gone Girl, and I just finished Dark Places which I think was the weakest of the three, but still a good thriller. Gillian Flynn has a talent for both plotting and writing, but her main characters tend to be incredibly unlikable. Libby Day, of Dark Places, was the worst offender of the three (Day, Camille Preaker of Sharp Objects and of course, Amazing Amy from Gone Girl). Although I felt bad for disliking Libby Day, since this is was her backstory…
“You think you know the answer, you’re going to find peace? Like knowing is somehow going to fix you? You think after what happened there’s any peace for you, sweetheart? How about this. Instead of asking yourself what happened, just accept that it happened.”
When Libby was seven, her mother and sisters were massacred — and Libby fingered her older, troubled brother as the murderer. Since then, Libby (now in her early 30s) has drifted angrily through life, living off a trust fund created from donations since the murders. After a meeting with her accountant, she learns how very low the balance in that account has become. Desperate for money, she agrees to appear at a meeting of the Kill Club, whose members are convinced that her brother is innocent, and that the police manipulated young Libby into accusing him. Initially motivated by money ($500 to interview her father, etc.), she begins to dig into the past, and discovers that maybe her memories of that night aren’t as clear as she thought.
The story alternates between present day Libby’s narrative (which stays mired in depression for the majority of the novel — with good reason, but it wears after a while), and the few days leading up to the murder (as told from the perspectives of Libby’s mother and brother) in 1985. There’s a lot of really icky stuff that happens in this book, most of it in the past, but being inside Libby’s brain is pretty icky, too. It’s obvious that this family was pretty messed up from the start, and the years since the murder haven’t done any of the surviving members any good. Like Flynn’s other novels, there’s a big twist at the end, but I thought it a bit of a stretch and it let down the rest of the novel. Like I said, still worth reading — but definitely the weakest of her three.