This was my second Gillian Flynn novel after devouring Gone Girl about a month ago. While this story didn’t capture me quite as strongly, it was still a fantastic read. Tightly plotted, great characters and a pervasive sense of dread throughout.
Camille Preaker is a junior reporter for a Chicago newspaper who is sent back to her small hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to report on the kidnapping and murder of two young girls. Though Camille still has family there, she hasn’t visited in years. Her mother, Adora Crellin is the town’s preeminent business owner but is a strange and distant woman. Staying in her family home is tough on Camille, dealing with her mother’s idiosyncrasies and having to face the unresolved issues of her own sister’s death from years before, which are surfaced by the deaths of the two girls. Camille also gets to know her own, much younger half sister Amma for the first time. This all unfolds in the first couple of chapters of the novel, and the story simply does not let up.
Flynn perfectly captures a sense of dread in the small town – the feeling that people’s lives, particularly those of the women, are prescribed for them while in high school. The same spiteful gossip is repeated, expectations set and inevitably met and that no one is allowed to buck the social order established in childhood. Both the poor and wealthy alike are trapped. Camille has physically distanced herself from this world, but is soon sucked back in by her ongoing relationship with her mother and the things remembered of her from her past.
I think the sense of creeping dread that this novel gave me was more from the depiction of the small town rather than the horrific murders of the two children. Flynn does a wonderful job of leading you slowly into the tar-pit of history that Camille soon becomes trapped by. The plot does not rely on a huge reveal to shock, but more unravels the story towards its inevitable conclusion.
A great read that made me incredibly thankful for the anonymity of living in a big city.