Dark Places Review

Book: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

Having read Gone Girl earlier this year, I wanted to try another Gillian Flynn novel and I decided to try this one. I was aware that it was going to be a dark book as the title obviously says but there were certain things in this book that completely creeped me out and I think some details may have been a step too far (I will elaborate on this later on). Flynn really doesn’t like sympathetic main female characters, this has become clear to me with this book because yet again the female protagonist is unsympathetic and not very likeable, in fact I don’t really think many of the characters in this book are likeable at all, except for Libby’s mother Patty (whom I felt sorry for) and her aunt Diane (who I thought was just generally quite cool).

Dark Places suffered from much the same problem as Gone Girl in that in parts it was quite slow. This book is not a fast, exciting read, it’s much more of a mystery but it was intriguing which was what kept me reading because I just couldn’t not know who killed Libby’s family. I liked the switching between the past and the present, with the three different characters of Patty, Ben and Libby because it let you build up ideas in your head as to who the murderer is. I worked out who the murderer was about halfway through the book although I didn’t see the twist coming. I also didn’t understand where the blood on Michelle’s bed sheets came from although maybe I missed the part where that was explained.

The detail where I felt Flynn went a step too far was when she was describing the main character’s brother Ben and his girlfriend and friend carrying out the satanic ritual of a cow. I didn’t think it was necessary to include this and it was so horrifyingly descriptive, I almost didn’t want to continue after reading. I’ve read plenty of gory scenes in books, but that one was just one step too far. There was also maybe a little too much sex in there for my liking and a lot of rude language. The murder scenes themselves (yes scenes) also had a little too much gory detail for my liking, although in terms of excitement they were the high point of the book. I did think it was good the way the Angel of Death (a guy who had been round states killing people) tied into the Days storyline. I liked how in the 1985 flashbacks, the misunderstandings between Ben and his mother are shown. Even though I found Libby unlikeable, I did find myself feeling a little sorry for her towards the end of the novel, which shows what a good writer Flynn is.

The ending was quite possibly the weakest part of the novel. I couldn’t believe that everything just tied up that neatly, I was expecting some massive twist or something and it just didn’t happen. Nothing ever works out that well, it just seemed too unrealistic. I thought that Patty’s actions given the dire circumstances her family were in was quite believable and the way the poverty of the family was portrayed was very well done too.

One thing I couldn’t really understand was why Diondra (Ben’s girlfriend) was even with him in the first place. She didn’t seem to like him that much and she was two grades above him, he was a geeky outsider kid and she was rich and popular so it didn’t seem as if the two of them had anything in common and I struggled to understand why they were together. I didn’t really like Ben all that much, he was obsessed with Diondra and rude to his mother and sisters but I did feel somewhat sorry for him because I thought Diondra treated him really badly and she didn’t deserve him protecting her. I liked him more in the present than in the past.

The idea of the Kill Club seemed pretty unlikely and I think it basically just served as a plot device to get Libby off her ass and start doing some detective work, I don’t think there was any real point to having it in the story.

Overall Dark Places was a somewhat enjoyable book that had it been cut maybe a hundred pages or so, it would have been extremely enjoyable as the mystery is gripping and once you get over the hump of the beginning of the book all you want to know is who the killers are. I wouldn’t say it was as good as Gone Girl but it was a decent read and Gillian Flynn is definitely a great author, this one was just a little too dark for my tastes. I will definitely read Sharp Objects though, it hasn’t put me off reading that.

My Rating: 3/5

The next book I will be reviewing is Every Second Counts, sequel to Split Second by Sophie McKenzie.