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Dark Places: A Novel [Paperback]

Gillian Flynn
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 4 2010

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

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Dark Places: A Novel + Sharp Objects: A Novel + Gone Girl: A Novel
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Named one of the Best Books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly

A Weekend TODAY “Top Summer Read”

The New Yorker's Reviewers' Favorite from 2009

A 2009 Favorite Fiction Pick by The Chicago Tribune

“[A] nerve-fraying thriller.”
The New York Times

“Flynn’s well-paced story deftly shows the fallibility of memory and the lies a child tells herself to get through a trauma.”
The New Yorker

“Gillian Flynn coolly demolished the notion that little girls are made of sugar and spice in Sharp Objects, her sensuous and chilling first thriller. In DARK PLACES, her equally sensuous and chilling follow-up, Flynn…has conjured up a whole new crew of feral and troubled young females….[A] propulsive and twisty mystery.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Flynn follows her deliciously creepy Sharp Objects with another dark tale . . . The story, alternating between the 1985 murders and the present, has a tense momentum that works beautifully. And when the truth emerges, it’s so macabre not even twisted little Libby Day could see it coming.”
People (4 stars)

“Crackles with peevish energy and corrosive wit.”
Dallas Morning News

“A riveting tale of true horror by a writer who has all the gifts to pull it off.”
Chicago Tribune

"In her first psychological thriller, Sharp Objects, Flynn created a world unsparingly grim and nasty (the heroine carves words into her own flesh) written with irresistibly mordant humor. The sleuth in her equally disturbing and original second novel is Libby Day....It's Flynn's gift that she can make a caustic, self-loathing, unpleasant protagonist someone you come to root for.”
New York Magazine

“[A] gripping thriller.”

"Gillian Flynn is the real deal, a sharp, acerbic, and compelling storyteller with a knack for the macabre.”
–Stephen King

“Another winner!”
Harlan Coben

“Gillian Flynn’s writing is compulsively good. I would rather read her than just about any other crime writer.”
Kate Atkinson

“Dark Places grips you from the first page and doesn't let go.”
Karin Slaughter

“With her blistering debut Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn hit the ground running. Dark Places demonstrates that was no fluke.”
Val McDermid

Dark Places' Libby Day may seem unpleasant company at first–she's humoring those with morbid curiosities about her family's murders in order to get money out of them–but her steely nature and sharp tongue are compelling. 'I have a meanness inside me,'she says, 'real as an organ.'Yes she does, and by the end of this pitch-black novel, after we've loosened our grip on its cover and started breathing deeply again, we're glad Flynn decided to share it.”
Jessa Crispin, NPR.org

“Flynn returns to the front ranks of emerging thriller writers with her aptly titled new novel . . . Those who prefer their literary bones with a little bloody meat will be riveted.”
Portland Oregonian

“Gillian Flynn may turn out to be a more gothic John Irving for the 21st century, a writer who uses both a surgeon's scalpel and a set of rusty harrow discs to rip the pretty face off middle America.”
San Jose Mercury News

“The world of this novel is all underside, all hard flinch, and Flynn’s razor-sharp prose intensifies this effect as she knuckles in on every sentence. . . . The slick plotting in DARK PLACES will gratify the lover of a good thriller–but so, too, will Flynn’s prose, which is ferocious and unrelenting and pure pleasure from word one.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Gillian Flynn’s second novel, DARK PLACES, proves that her first – Sharp Objects – was no fluke. . . . tough, surprising crime fiction that dips its toes in the deeper waters of literary fiction.”
Chicago Sun-Times

"Flynn fully inhabits Libby—a damaged woman whose world has resided entirely in her own head for the majority of her life and who is prone to dark metaphors: 'Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.' Half the fun of DARK PLACES is Libby’s swampy psychology, which Flynn leads us through without the benefit of hip waders.”
Time Out Chicago

“Clever, engrossing and disturbing….[DARK PLACES] should cement [Flynn’s] place in the great authors of crime fiction.”

“[D]eliciously creepy...Flynn follows 250-some pages of masterful plotting and character development with a speedway pileup of pulse-pounding revelations.”
Chicago Reader

“A genuinely shocking denouement.”
Romantic Times

“Sardonic, riveting . . . Like Kate Atkinson, Flynn has figured out how to fuse the believable characters, silken prose and complex moral vision of literary fiction to the structure of a crime story. . . . You can sense trouble coming like a storm moving over the prairie, but can't quite detect its shape.”
Laura Miller, Salon.com

“These characters are fully realized—so true they could step off the page….hints of what truly happened to the Day family feel painfully, teasingly paced as they forge an irresistible trail to the truth….Could. Not. Stop. Reading.”

“Libby’s voice is a pitch-perfect blend of surliness and emotionally charged imagery. . . . The Kansas in these pages is a bleak, deterministic place where bad blood and lies generate horrifically unintended consequences. Though there’s little redemption here, Flynn manages to unearth the humanity buried beneath the squalor.”

“Set in the bleak Midwest of America, this evocation of small-town life and dysfunctional people is every bit as horribly fascinating as Capote’s journalistic retelling of a real family massacre, In Cold Blood, which it eerily resembles. This is only Flynn’ s second crime novel–her debut was the award-winning Sharp Objects–and demonstrates even more forcibly her precocious writing ability and talent for the macabre.”
Daily Mail (UK)

“Flynn’s second novel is a wonderful evocation of drab small-town life. The time-split narrative works superbly and the atmosphere is eerily macabre—Dark Places is even better than the author’s award-winning Sharp Objects.”
The Guardian (UK)

“A gritty, riveting thriller with a one-of-a-kind, tart-tongued heroine.”
Booklist, starred review

“Flynn’s second crime thriller tops her impressive debut, Sharp Objects…When the truth emerges, it’s so twisted that even the most astute readers won’t have predicted it.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The sole survivor of a family massacre is pushed into revisiting a past she’d much rather leave alone, in Flynn’s scorching follow-up to Sharp Objects . . . Flynn intercuts Libby’s venomous detective work with flashbacks to the fatal day 24 years ago so expertly that as they both hurtle toward unspeakable revelations, you won’t know which one you’re more impatient to finish. . . . every sentence crackles with enough baleful energy to fuel a whole town through the coldest Kansas winter.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Once in a while a book comes along that puts a new spin on an old idea. More than 40 years ago, Truman Capote took readers inside the Clutter farmhouse in Holcomb, KS, to show them what it was like to walk in a killer's shoes. Flynn takes modern readers back to Kansas to explore the fictional 1985 Day family massacre from the perspective of a survivor as well as the suspects. . . . tight plotting and engaging characters.”
Library Journal

About the Author

GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the runaway hit Gone Girl, an international sensation that has spent more than seventy-five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Her work has been published in forty languages. Gone Girl is soon to be a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox. Flynn’s previous novels, Dark Places and Dagger Award winner Sharp Objects, were also New York Times bestsellers. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, she lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family's Mass Murder - 7 Year Old Survives Sept. 18 2009
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Reason for Reading: The plot sounded like this would be the perfect read for me, but I haven't read her first book which has been widely praised.

Comments: The book first opens with a woman, Libby, young thirties, only survivor of her family's brutal slaying, her mother and two older sisters, when she was seven years old. Her brother, Ben, fifteen at the time, was convicted and sentenced to life for the murders. Libby has now used up the "fund" that accumulated for her through her childhood as people donated to her plight. Now a mixed-up woman with no means of support, and no real desire to work, she is approached by a fan club of true crime fanatics who will pay her to get in touch with people who have first hand information about the crime and also are willing to buy any 'memorabilia' she may have. Libby figures this is better than working but when she attends her first convention of this underground club she is startled when she realizes they all have ideas as to who the real killer is, no one believes Ben is guilty, but she was there, she knows he is, doesn't she?

Told from several different viewpoints we follow Libby as she traces back her family history, while at the same time in alternating chapters we are returned to that fateful day and shown the events from both Ben and Libby's mother's point of view. Other participants of that day occasionally tune in and tell an incident in their own voice, as well. Very well-written, with a tension that continues to rise slowly through the book to the final reveals which are stunning. I did find myself managing to stay ahead of the plot, but just by a few paces, and it still did have a few surprises for me in the end.
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I started reading this book shortly after finishing both of Gillian Flynn's other novels, "Gone Girl" (which I loved) and "Sharp Objects" (which I hated). I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with this book after Sharp Objects. This book was written in a similar style to Gone Girl, in that the perspective switched from chapter to chapter. Two timelines were followed throughout the book: the day of the murders, and present day. Again, I was surprised by Flynn's ability to write characters with absolutely no redeeming quality to them, but did not find this book as dark and sadistic as Sharp Objects (although reading about the killings themselves in detail was slightly disturbing). I would recommend this book to those who enjoy murder mysteries that have not really an even remotely likely suspect throughout most of the book. I did like the twist near the end, however it seemed as though the book was pointing that way anyways.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another great book by Gillian Flynn Feb. 14 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent storyline. The characters stories go from past to present tense which builds the suspense. Another great book by Gillian Flynn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Prefered this over Gone Girl July 17 2014
Gillian Flynn is amazing at making you think one thing and then completely change your mind the next. This is the second Gillian Flynn book I've read (the first being Gone Girl) and I definitely prefer Dark Places. The writing style is one of the best parts for me in the way that it went back and forth between three different perspectives. Flynn had me guessing the entire time. I could not put this book down. I'm exited to read Sharp Objects next.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, twisted fun. Aug. 24 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's like a perfect storm of horrible luck! Like an old school farce. As usual, some things were obvious right from the beginning, but there are enough twists and turns that you'd never guess it all. SPOILERS AHEAD and it's a good thing this was followed by Gone Girl, because there's a theme of double murders sneaking up on her writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars honest portrayals Aug. 6 2014
By Ella
Format:Kindle Edition
The writer has a true gift for distilling her words for best effect and for presenting honest and unflinching depictions of the human condition. She is a craftsman and I look forward to reading more of her work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read July 7 2014
By Whizmo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Never saw the ending coming. There were hints and clues but I couldn't put the book down till it was finished
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5.0 out of 5 stars highly recomend Feb. 22 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, it was a page turner, I never knew what to expect. Would recommend to anyone who loves a good mysterry.
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