Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Dark Story of the Midwest

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
I won't forget this book for a long time. Libby Day escaped a massacre when she was seven years old. On the early morning of January 3, 1985 her entire family was brutally murdered as they slept at the family's failing Kansas farm. Her brother Ben, a teenage misfit at the time, was convicted of the crime and has been in prison for 24 years. Members of the Kill Cub, fans of infamous crimes, offer Libby money to recant the testimony that put Ben in jail because they believe him innocent of the crime. As Libby investigates the crime she meets her family's past and the unsavory characters who have survived it. The story alternates between the viewpoints of Libby and Ben in the present day and Ben and his murdered mother, Patty Day, on the day of the murder.

This story is masterfully told. The characters, especially Libby and Ben, jump to life. In addition to being a breathlessly suspenseful mystery, this novel is a fairly nuanced exploration of guilt, innocence, survival, and loss.