Thursday, July 12, 2012

So hot right now: Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is so hot right now since releasing her third novel Gone Girl in early June to wide acclaim (hints that it will be on many "best of 2012" lists). Because it might be difficult to get your hands on her newest, don't hesitate to get one of her older titles Sharp Objects or Dark Places.

Flynn's novels may not be for everyone; they are dark and suspenseful (although there is occasionally a drollness that pops up). But, and it's a big but, they are skillfully written and rewarding. Her characterization in both books are stellar. She writes people and dialogue realistically and the reader meets the characters as one would in person-- over time. Though this technique might imply a slow-paced read, they aren't.

Sharp Objects follows Camille Preaker, a reporter living in Chicago who is tapped by her boss to return to her home town in Missouri to report on the murders of two young girls. She is not pleased about this prospect, and we find out why as she re-introduces herself into the world of Wind Gap, Missouri. Camille is shut-out of the official investigation by the sheriff, but she's always got good 'ole gossip to go on. However, things get uncomfortable the minute she's back in her childhood home: the memories of her long-dead little sister, her cold mother, her step-father without a spine and her pre-teen half-sister who's got a reputation around town as a trouble maker. She reverts back to her own dark thoughts and memories in mere days of being back home while trying to find out what happened to the two murdered girls.

Dark Places begins 20-odd years after the murder of Libby Day's family. She and her brother Ben were the only two survivors, but Ben is in jail for the murders and Libby (as a seven-year-old) helped put him there. When a so-called murder club offers her money-- something she's run out of-- Libby is motivated to begin an investigation of that day. Did Ben really murder her mother and two sisters?
Libby isn't the most likeable of characters, but, once again, Flynn presents a truthful persona born from a deeply traumatized childhood. Dark Places is also an exceptional study in perception. Flynn drops details which seem insignificant, but we come to find out aren't. What is one person's innocent belongings are another person's proof of guilt. Chapters alternate between Libby in present day, and Ben and their mother, Patty, the day in 1985 leading to the overnight murders. It's an effective device for keeping the suspense afloat as well as giving the reader some perspective. (To those it may interest: in mid May Amy Adams was reportedly in talks to play Libby in the film adaptation of this book.)

Sharp Objects
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Dark Places
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Gone Girl
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