It seems like every mystery/suspense book written by a woman, starring a woman, in the last few years has been compared to Gone Girl (on the cover blurb, at least). This book was not — the Goodreads blurb mentions that fans of Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone will like it, which I disagree with. Instead, this book strongly reminded me of Gillian Flynn, but not of Gone Girl. More like Sharp Objects or Dark Places — an unlikable female protagonist who spends most of the book drinking, making bad decisions and running from her past.
“The secrets under my skin have changed the shape of my face, which shifted from town to town, from girl to girl.”
Rayelle Reed (winner for White Trash Name of the Year) is stuck in her small town due to a shitty past and general lack of ambition (and a drinking problem). She meets up with a much older man named Couper Gale, a freelance writer/detective investigating a series of missing or dead girls. Rayelle kind of tags along, and they travel around the south investigating these cases. In the meantime, we’re also treated to a narrative by Rayelle’s cousin (also severely fucked up, but for far darker reasons), as the author gradually reveals her link to the missing girls.
I won’t say this book wasn’t compelling. I read the whole damn thing on a two hour airplane trip. But I felt icky and dirty at the end, and even if you like this kind of book (mystery, suspense, seedy Southern towns), you probably will, too. Not a redeemable character in the whole bunch.