Book review: ‘Dark Places’ by Gillian Flynn

By on November 20, 2014

By Sammie Hill–


25 years ago, Libby Day’s brother slayed her entire family in an act that left one sister strangled, the other chopped up by an axe and their mother blown to bits by a shotgun. Libby managed to escape during her brother’s rampage. When she returned from hiding in the woods, she found her family members murdered and the walls of her house covered in satanic symbols.


Now an adult, Libby avoids thoughts and memories of the tragedy in an effort to move on with her life. That is, until the need for money drives her to accept an invitation to speak to members of a “kill club.” This club consists of people fascinated by famous murders—Libby’s family included. The members of this club, ordinary people who have studied the Day murders and formed their own theories of what happened, prompt Libby to question what really occurred that night and if, in fact, her brother is the true killer.


The novel alternates between Libby’s present day investigation and flashbacks to the perspectives of Libby’s mother and brother on the day of the murders. Slowly, the story begins to come together and the audience learns of the coincidental events that converged to result in the massacre of the Day family.


The suspenseful plot of the novel compensates for its somewhat average writing. Gillian Flynn certainly crafts an intriguing book, yet the writing occasionally drifts into the territory of bland. Furthermore, one plot question plagued me through the entire book: Has Libby really never questioned these things in 25 years? A few strangers claim her brother is innocent and suddenly the beliefs she’s held for a quarter of a century unravel. That’s really all it took for her to re-evaluate pretty much the most significant thing that’s ever happened to her?


Despite this criticism, I would still recommend this book to those who enjoy a solid mystery novel with an unpredictable but satisfying ending, and especially to those interested in the satanic cult hysteria of the 1980s.

About Sammie Hill

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