Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places Book Cover

Dark Places Book Cover

Dark Places is a mystery thriller on the classic case of who-dun-it. The story begins in the perspective of Libby Day, the sole survivor of the Kinnakee farm murders – the night her mother and two older sisters were killed in their own home. The murderer? The brother, Ben Day. Ben was believed to be into Satanic cults and Satanic worship, and it was easy to target him as the main suspect. Ben had no alibi for that night, and little Libby was the primary witness who said she saw him kill the Days. Even though the testimony came from a 7 year old, this was strong enough to place Ben in prison for life. As the story progresses in the present day, Libby, now 31 years old, and us readers begin to find out that that night was not as simple as Ben Day killing his entire family simply because. Libby finally faces her fear of that night (her Dark Place) and investigates the mystery behind her family’s death.

The pacing of the story was a little of a drag for me. There is a lot of flip-flopping between characters – first Libby Day in the present, then Patty Day (the mother) on the day before she dies, then back over to Libby, then the brother Ben, etc. etc. While I enjoyed all the different perspectives because this is how I truly learn about each character and see the reasoning behind their actions, I found myself wanting to skip over the mom’s part and just move on with reading about Ben/Libby. Things like that. (I was a little bored reading about the Kill Club and its crazies, too.)

The pace finally picked up speed towards the middle of the novel, when Libby decides that she will take matters into her own hands and dive into her past. She finds her alcoholic and forever-in-debt father. She visits Ben in prison, the first time she sees him since the trials. Because readers get into the minds of the other characters, the ending actually wasn’t a surprise for me. I think Flynn laid out too many clues for what really happened that night, which is a little disappointing. I wanted to be utterly surprised and in shock (the way I like my thriller novels to end!). Even though this particular novel didn’t have that kind of ending, it was still a very good and entertaining read.

One thing that I wasn’t and still unable to understand is why Flynn decided to write the other characters (Ben Day, Patty Day) in third-person POV rather than in the first-person. These perspectives were all in the past (back to the day/night before the killing) while Libby’s perspective is the only one in the present day. I don’t think that this negatively impacted my reading, but it was a thought that kept creeping back into my mind every few chapters.


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