I will start by saying that I am a Gillian Flynn fan, even though I haven’t read Gone Girl yet. I have read Sharp Objects and really enjoyed it. That being said, I was a little disappointed with Dark Places. Don’t get me wrong, it was gripping from the start and written in a very raw and un-sugarcoated gritty way, which is characteristic of Flynn’s writing. She really doesn’t feel like her amazing descriptions have to be pretty. I ran into trouble with this novel when some of the plot points didn’t seem believable to me. The whole thing was definitely entertaining, but I get hung-up on details when I think things occur in a book that wouldn’t actually happen “in real life” (paranormal works aside).
Libby Day’s mother and two sisters were murdered when she was very young. Libby lets the tragedy define her and often recites unsettling headlines in her mind. I love me a good murder mystery, bu I found it a little unbelievable that a woman whose family was brutally murdered would volunteer to go to a serial killer fanatics convention because she needed money and she thought that was an emotionally acceptable way to get it. Libby’s character seems (understandably) unstable, so this was the first point that left me scratching my head. There’s many other ways to get money other than agreeing to delve into the past and listen to people gawk over what happened to your family. I understand that it sort of set the stage for the intrigue surrounding her brother … and whether or not he was in any way responsible for the mother and sisters being murdered, but I found this nonetheless a weak point.
Ben. Ben Day (the brother), sits in prison for a crime he may not have committed himself, but knew something about. What I don’t understand is … when Libby finds out the truth of what happened that night, or the closest she can get 20 plus years later, she learns that Ben stood by and watched his then pregnant girlfriend murder Ben’s (and Libby’s) sister, Michelle. What baffles me is that Libby and Ben seem to have some sort of reconciliation near the end. Even though he himself didn’t kill anyone, he stood by and did nothing.
Lastly, the emotionally unstable mother apparently hired a hit man to have herself killed so her children could receive the life insurance money, but when that went wrong (somehow), the hit man also had to kill one of the sister’s who saw him go after the mother.
Sigh. As much as I love Flynn’s writing, I have to say that I got really hung up on the details on this one. It held my attention, but a lot of plot points kept nagging at me and the majority of explanations given for certain things weren’t satisfying to me … though maybe that’s how she intended it. I’m not sure.
I did appreciate the sort of overarching theme surrounding how sometimes knowing the truth does not in any way set you free and may not do anything for you. Searching for it may actually do you harm.