ABR’s #CBR5 Review #20: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark-placesOn its own, Dark Places is probably a very good book. But if you have read Gillian Flynn’s other novels, Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, Dark Places will seem familiar, derivative.

Dark Places may not be the page turner that Gone Girl was, but I still really like the way Flynn composes her novels. Her back-and-forth style not only creates suspense and tension, it gives the characters a chance to tell the story. You hear events from one character, and in the next chapter, another character corrects the errors, fills in the blanks, expands the story. I also think she is a uniquely descriptive writer.

That said, there is certainly a recipe to the success of her novels. Start with a troubled girl. Throw in a tragic past. Give her an addiction or vice. Make her family dysfunctional. Add a colleague who may turn into a love interest. Include one or two truly terrifying women. Turn the female protagonist into an amateur detective. End on a slightly optimistic note that still makes you feel dirty.

Libby Day is the troubled girl in Dark Places. In her tragic past her sisters and mother were killed, and when the signs and the townspeople pointed to Libby’s brother, she claimed he killed them. Libby’s vice is that she has lived off insurance money for 25 years. She doesn’t want to hold a job, have friends, clean herself or her apartment. And yes, she drinks and steals. Her possible love interest is Lyle, a member of the local Kill Club, a strange organization that is fascinated by murders and believes her brother is innocent. Libby herself is a pathetic character, but the doozy in this novel is Diondra, a sexually precocious 15-year-old addict, alcoholic, abuser, Satan worshipper. She’s a peach.

When Libby’s insurance money starts to run out, she teams up with Lyle and the Kill Club, who pay her to reconnect with her father and incarcerated brother, and sell mementos from her dead family. It’s no surprise that she begins to question her brother’s conviction and doubt her memories.

I would like to say that this book also ends more hopefully than it begins. But in the end Libby’s family is still dead (that isn’t a spoiler) and now you have the Diondra character in your head.


sonk’s #CBR5 Review #49: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places is about Libby Day, a woman in her late twenties whose family was brutally murdered when she was only seven. Her older brother, Ben, then only fifteen, is serving a life sentence for the crime, based largely on Libby’s testimony. Libby’s life is filled with anxiety and depression  and loneliness—she has nothing left, having driven away her remaining extended family and having used up almost all of the money she received from well-meaning strangers who heard of her story. Things are shaken up when Libby gets contacted by a member of “the Kill Club,” a group that meets to discuss and solve old mysteries. They think that her brother, Ben, is innocent—and they’re willing to pay Libby a lot of money to help them figure out what really happened on that night.

Read the rest of my review here.

Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #127: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn


My one coworker keeps asking me why I read such dark books. You know, because I’ve only really told her about this and The Death of Bees. Oh, and I’ve also mentioned my love (now dead) for the television series Dexter, among other things. So I can see where she’s coming from. She just doesn’t have the whole picture. Like I said in an earlier review, I can only tolerate so much “darkness.” When a story seems to exist only to torture its characters in as sadistic a fashion as possible, you’ve probably lost me. You could argue thatBreaking Bad falls into that camp, but Vince Gilligan is too much of a genius for me to care. Every character is morally compromised, and I’m still invested in what happens to all of them. I honestly don’t know how he does it.

Gillian Flynn, by comparison, isn’t quite as talented. None of her characters are likable, nor are they likable in their unlikableness, like some of Breaking Bad‘s characters (namely Walter White). In addition to that, Flynn doesn’t seem to particularly like any of her characters, based upon what they each go through. Libby, for instance, survives the massacre at her house, the only member of her family so lucky, yet she ends up having a couple toes and part of a finger amputated from hiding outside in the snow and cold. Oh, and she also agrees to go be chewed out by people who believe her brother’s innocent, even after the man courting her for this exact purpose spelled out for her precisely what would happen if she came. Apparently, she’s as masochistic as Flynn is sadistic. Continue reading

Kash’s #CBR5 Review #13: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

As I make my way through the Gillian Flynn catalogue, I can concede this piece is not nearly as disturbing as her first foray, Sharp Objects. Although immeasurably dark, this one doesn’t leave you with a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Libby Day, the disturbed semi-adult leading lady fumbles along through her life. With no job or sense of purpose, she lives off of a fund compiled by charitable donations after three members of her family were murdered when she was seven years old. Her remaining brother in prison, after her testimony helped convict him, and her deadbeat dad living in the wind.

Continue reading