I just finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. It took me forever, not because I didn't enjoy the book but because I had a million other things going on when I started it. I was finishing up some pre-reading for my classroom library, making Christmas cards and crafting gifts for Christmas as well. Now that all of those things are completed, I can get back to reading by the fire!
Dark Places is thrilling mystery about Libby Day- the sole survivor of a brutal murder. Libby had a simple life as a child. She grew up on the Day farm with two older sisters and her older brother Ben. Raised with little money and hard work by their mother, Patty, the children all develop strange defences. With their father, Runner, out of their lives the children work on the farm to help out their mother in her attempt to save the farm from going under. Never enough money to go around, the children grow up on Goodwill and hodge-podge dinners. With the lack of a father figure, Ben becomes even more withdrawn from the females in his life. He hangs around with a tough crowd, smokes & drinks at a tender age, dates a girl who is obsessed with sex, money and Satan, and ultimately pays the price for these indulgences. The girls all develop their own niches within the house- a clear pecking order. Debby & Michelle are bossy, Michelle is the noisy little sneak, and the youngest, Libby keeps to herself and is the only one in the house who befriends Ben. As Patty does anything to save her farm and her family, a tragic event occurs- what the media dub "The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas".
The Day family is brutally murdered in what appears to be a satanic ritual. Patty is stabbed and then shot, Debby is axed to death and Michelle is strangled- the house is covered in food and blood drawn Satanic symbols. Libby escapes to the frozen pond outside, where she stays the night until she feels she can run to get help. Libby looses a finger & some toes to frostbite, but what she really looses is her sense of self. At 7 years old, Libby saw the destruction that fell upon her family. She is damaged goods. Ben also survives, but has no alibi for the night. When put on trial, Libby tells the jury she saw him kill her family. Libby is bounced from family member to family member while Ben is in prison for life for the murder of his family.
Libby Day is now 31 years old and has burned through all the cash she received from the support of strangers during her younger years. Desperate for money and not knowing where to turn, she decides to respond to a letter in the mail with a supposed "business proposal" for an appearance. When Libby accepts the job, she realizes that she has unofficially joined the "Kill Club" - a group of men and women who get together to find the truth in crimes that they feel are still mysteries. The Day Massacre is one of the Kill Clubs smaller subgroups, and Libby has agreed- at a price- to help them uncover the truth behind the murders. No on in the Kill Club thinks Ben is guilty. Libby knows no other suspect, and has not allowed herself to walk down memory lane into the dark place where that night lies. With the offer of money, she begins to walk down that road and starts to uncover the truth. Libby tracks down people from her past to help put the pieces of that night together and find out if she put her brother away for a crime he did or did not commit.
This novel instantly sucks the reader in. Written in intermittent flashbacks, the reader uncovers the truth behind the murders along with Libby as she seeks out answers to the Kill Clubs questions. Libby realizes she may have been coached into her answer as she reads through the trial transcripts, but also notices that Ben didn't do much for defending himself. As the reader goes between the voices of Libby Day now and Ben & Patty on that fateful night, we become part of the story. I read along and tried all the while to figure it out myself, but I just couldn't fit all the pieces together until the very end. At times confusing, brutal and downright disturbing, Dark Places is a thrilling ride, not for the weak at heart.
I highly recommend this book, and will soon be picking up Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow