Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day…especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

This was the final book I read on holiday and, just like Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, it didn’t disappoint! Flynn is now one of my favourite authors – she has a great talent for creating disturbed, dysfunctional characters in thrillers which are hard to put down.

Libby Day’s mother and two older sisters were murdered by her brother, Ben, twenty-five years ago when she was just seven years old. She managed to escape through a window but has been left scarred by the tragedy ever since. She has been living off the donations that people made at the time of the murders but the money is about to run out and Libby is scared to enter the real world.

She is approached by Lyle, a member of the ‘Kill Club’ which is fascinated by murders and crimes. He wants Libby to come and speak to them about her family’s massacre and she agrees because she is in need of money. When she gets to the meeting she is verbally attacked by the other members of the club who believe that Ben is innocent and it is her testimony that sent him to jail.

Libby defends herself but comes away from the meeting with the beginnings of doubt in her mind. She was very young when the murders happened and she didn’t see Ben, but she’s sure it was his voice she heard…wasn’t it?

The book switches between the narration of present day Libby, and Ben and her mother, Patty, on the day before the murders. Patty, a single mother, was struggling to make ends meet for her four children and was about to lose the family farm. Ben was resentful of the family’s lack of money and had got mixed up in a dodgy crowd at school.

***SPOILERS***

The afternoon before it all happened Ben is accused of molesting a young girl that he knew through the art club he volunteered with at school. His relationship with her did go too far, but it was only through her encouragement and he never touched her against her will. When Patty hears the rumours she and her sister go in a frantic search for Ben, but he is nowhere to be found.

Ben is with his older girlfriend Diondra, who is pregnant. They are forming plans to run away and start a new life together but they need money. Diondra forces Ben to go back to his house and gather whatever he and his mother have stashed there.

This will end in disaster, but not in the way that everyone thinks. Ben and Diondra are responsible for at least part of the massacre, but it is not completely their fault. Patty also has something to hide.

***END OF SPOILERS***

As Libby spends more time with Lyle she begins to doubt what happened that night. The more they investigate, and the more people they interview the more she begins to believe in her brother’s innocence. When they eventually discover the truth it is not what they were expecting.

I really enjoyed Dark Places – it was a gripping thriller which wasn’t too cliched or predictable. I liked the way it switched between the past and the present so you had a gradual reveal of the truth from both angles. Libby isn’t the most likable character but she is a troubled young woman with a hideous family history and so I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

I also found this book very interesting because I took a minor course in psychology at university this year. One of the modules was about forensic interviews with children and the precautions that must be taken to ensure that their testimonies are as accurate as possible. The way Libby was interviewed when she was a child is like a case study of how a child shouldn’t be interviewed. Children are highly suggestible and so if they are not questioned in the right way the evidence they give can be useless.

I’m so glad I discovered Gillian Flynn and I can’t wait for her to release another book because I haven’t been disappointed yet!

4/5

The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty – we all have it.

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2 thoughts on “Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

  1. Nicola | BookBunny says:

    I quite liked Dark Places too though it took me a while to get into. I found that once I got half way in, it was unputdownable. I just NEEDED to know what happened. I warmed to Libby by the end 🙂 Great review 🙂

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