Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben.
Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
Sometimes you finish reading a book and you just don’t know what to do with yourself. That was how I felt after reading Dark Places.
First of all, I breezed through the 349 pages in about one week which is alot of reading for me because I tend to take about two weeks to finish a book. Between work and everything else, there are days I can’t read a single page but Dark Places had me hooked. This is the kind of book that invades your sleep. I was up late the one Friday night reading “just one more chapter” before I finished it up Saturday morning over coffee and toast.
I dove into this one right after I finished Sharp Objects which was amazing as well.
Look at these first lines…
“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp it.”
-p. 1, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
And then the story takes right off and twists and turns and doesn’t stop until the very end. I was left speechless and breathless during much of it. I thought about it long after I turned the final page.
The story-line is told in alternating chapters present time and past mainly by Libby Day, her brother Ben Day and their mother Patty. When Libby was 7 years old, her mother and two sisters were killed in their remote farm-house on the early morning hours of January 3rd, 1985. Her 15-year-old brother Ben received a life sentence after being found guilty of the murders. Libby was awake and heard what was going on but did not see anything. She barely managed to escape by climbing out of her mother’s bedroom window and hiding out in the cold. She was put on the witness stand and testified against her brother.
Now the 25th anniversary of the murders is coming up. Libby is in her thirties and is obviously still broken over this horrific event. She can’t really function on her own, has never been able to work and has been living off public donation funds she received at age 18. Ben is in prison but Libby has not spoken to him. Her aunt Diane raised her most of her life but the two are estranged now. She is also estranged from her father who is an addict and an all around mess.
Libby is finally running out of money so she agrees to take cash for telling her story to a group of people who follow the murder case, many of which are adamant Ben is not guilty. This leads her onto a path of investigating the case herself and trying to find out what really happened to her family.
Gillian Flynn just has a knack for writing books that you just cannot put down. The characters are not particularly likable, one minute you feel like you feel sorry for them but then they do these crazy things and you are back at not really liking them but just needing to know what will happen next. The story is told through these characters eyes and Ben and Libby are both unreliable narrators so you don’t really know what to think. When their mother Patty narrated I just felt bad for her and I knew she’d take it to the morning of the murders and that she would be the one to tell the truth.
The Day family is dirt poor, Patty inherited the farm from her family and her husband at the time Runner, ruined their finances and left her with four children and massive debt. In the end she was desperate to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. On top of that Ben is an angry teenager at a rough time in his life with no father figure, embarrassed that he is poor and trying to fit in. He is easily drawn into a bad crowd and manipulated. The book is dark and twisted as Ben is involved with two people who are into Satan worshiping. These are two spoiled cowards and bullies, but Ben doesn’t see this about them and he just wants to be accepted.
Thinking about this book, I still just cannot even give it a proper review. It was highly entertaining in a dark and twisted gut wrenching way. Just everything about it, especially the dynamics of the relationships, between Patty and her only sister Diane, the way Diane would always help her. She would bring them groceries every week and and try to help Patty financially. The way Patty felt about her only son Ben, always believing in his being a good person and even when that was tested then just trying to find a way to save her son. I’m telling you, gut-wrenching. I was like on the verge of tears at one point.
This is me after I finish a Gillian Flynn novel:
I highly recommend her to fans of the genre and if you enjoy perfectly executed dark and twisted stories that will leave you stunned and breathless. This was a top read for 2018 and I wish I could read it for the first time again.
“Everyone who keeps a secret itches to tell it.”
-p.302, Dark Places
disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
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