Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Dark Places
I’m not someone who can be depended on five days a week. Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday? I don’t even get out of bed five days in a row -- I often don’t remember to eat five days in a row. Reporting to a workplace, where I would need to stay for eight hours—eight big hours outside my home -- was unfeasible.

Ever since I read Gone Girl, I have been looking forward to reading more of Gillian Flynn's books. Not that Gone Girl was the perfect read, but it was certainly a hard-to-put-down book with so many twists and turns that I had to see more of what Flynn could deliver. In Dark Places, Libby Day lost almost her entire family in one night - two sisters and her mother murdered by her brother. For the next twenty-four years, Libby lived on donations from people who wanted to help her and some money earned through the sales of a self-help book. But now, that money pond has dried up and Libby needs to find a way to survive. She doesn't want a job because she cannot be depended upon to do anything that involves routine or responsibility. Right when she is close to giving up, she receives a letter from someone named Lyle who has a monetary offer for her, in exchange for some help.

Lyle is part of a group of people who are like groupies for famous murders. They analyze and cross-analyze clues, visit the persons who were arrested for the crimes, and in the case of serial killers that are still at large, they try to locate where the perpetrator's next crime would be. Lyle and some of the group members have long believed that Libby's brother, Ben, wasn't the murderer that night, but Libby isn't having any of that. When the murder was happening outside her bedroom, she heard Ben's voice, or thought she did. Moreover, she doesn't want to revisit the events of that night - they have destroyed enough of her life. But Lyle has promised Libby some cash for anything Libby would do to help them solve the mysteries of that night. And Libby complies - she needs the money. But she ends up getting more than she asked for.

Dark Places has a very gruesome murder at its core. The events of that night are revisited quite a few times from multiple perspectives and they aren't pretty at all. There are plenty of twists and turns in this book too, not as much as in Gone Girl, but that shouldn't be a matter for comparison. However, the twists in this book felt pretty lame and predictable. Libby's investigation in the present and the actual events of that dreadful day are told in alternating sections from multiple perspectives. The murders happened during the 80s, at the height of the devil worship era. There is a lot of devil talk and and beliefs floating around in the flashback sections of the book. In addition, there is one ghastly devil worship scene, which I thought was even more disturbing than the actual murders. (It's a sad fact that I saw a similar scene in a movie recently. Once you read/see stuff like that, you pretty much want to swear off all meat for the rest of your life.)

Dark Places was a fast-paced book, which is usually a good thing for thrillers, but unfortunately, this book suffered because of it. For one thing, I struggled to understand why, after years of deliberately staying away from the events of that night, Libby would give in so easily and take in all the new knowledge without any hesitation. It just seemed too convenient.

The ending of this book was a big disappointment however. After all the buildup, and the possibility of something having gone very very wrong that night, it was quite angering to read what actually happened. Gillian Flynn certainly has a tendency to come up with very What? That's what happened after all this drama? endings. I won't spoil it for you, and besides, a lot of people on Goodreads have enjoyed the book, so maybe you will too. To me, however, the ending wasn't just unbelievable, it was also too convenient and too coincidental. It seemed like a bad enactment of Murphy's law. Everything that could go wrong went wrong that day, and some of the characters who were part of that day, came out of it dumber.

Honestly, I was very disappointed with this book. It made for a nice quick read and it is easily something I could read while on a plane, at the beach, or when I'm looking for something very light. But I expected something more clever and stimulating, and unfortunately, didn't get that.


This book is from my personal library.

9 comments:

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

Aw, that's too bad. I had high hopes for this book after Gone Girl.

Ti Reed said...

I was not a fan of Gone Girl but I agree it was a page turner. I tried this one before Gone Girl and it was not my thing. Maybe because it didn't grab me right away? Not sure.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I liked Gone Girl for how absolutely mad it was -- the crazy bits just kept coming nonstop all the way through the book. Without that kind of a plot to carry me along, I'm not as much of a fan of Gillian Flynn's particular brand of extreme darkness. So I didn't love Dark Places either.

literaryfeline said...

I have been wanting to read this one (and Sharp Objects). I'm sorry it was disappointing for you. It'll be interesting to see what I think when I get to it.

Nishita said...

I liked Gone Girl. A lot. But I always wondered whether her other books would be as good as that. Guess you answered my question, huh.


Thanks for the review!

Lisa Sheppard said...

Flynn has got to be the darkest of all female writers, certainly the darkest I've ever heard of. Sounds like maybe she tried too hard to be dark here and not hard enough to make the plot work.

Mystica said...

Sorry it disappointed you. We sometimes go into a book with high expectations.

techeditor said...

I read this book, too. I agree that the end, like GONE GIRL, is unsatisfactory. But I have different thoughts on this book.

I think DARK PLACES is
every bit as good as GONE GIRL. For one thing, it shows that, although Flynn's endings stink, her beginnings are great. Plus, having read Flynn's book SHARP OBJECTS as well, I see that she has a definite style. That is, all
three of her books grab your attention on page 1 and tell the story from
different points of view while going back and forth in time.

Unlike you, I feel that DARK
PLACES should have been the success that GONE GIRL was.

Melinda @ The Book Musings said...

I've only read Gone Girl, but I do want to read this one too. Sorry that you were disappointed with it!