The best part of discovering an author you love? Finding out he or she wrote other books.
I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but until “Gone Girl” came along, I had yet to hear of Gillian Flynn. So when I, like thousands upon thousands of others read the “it” book of the summer, found there were another two books out there to enjoy—”Sharp Objects” and “Dark Places?” Giddy, I say.
So—you want to know—will I enjoy Flynn’s first two books as much as I did “Gone Girl?” Should I put them on my “I gotta read this” list? Hell yes. Just know that there is no shortage of cray-cray going on in any of her novels. And I loves me some crazy.
“Sharp Objects” is Flynn’s first novel, debuting to critical acclaim when it was published in 2007. A great, tightly-written psychological thriller featuring crime reporter Camille Preaker, a recovering cutter and general whackadoo that is assigned to cover the missing girl trend in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. Family dysfunction, serial killers, pain, loss, grief, rejection, batshit crazy people … it’s all here.
Camille’s trip back home has her revisiting her past sins, along with that of her family and friends—it’s got to be tough to go home, only to discover not much has really changed. Boys are still jerks, mean girls are still mean, and yep, Mommy still doesn’t love you. Still, she soldiers on, determined to figure out who is killing feisty tween girls and why the heck they’d be interested in keeping their teeth as a souvenir. At just over 250 pages, this is a great choice for that long car trip, rainy day or waiting out jury duty.
“Dark Places” is Flynn’s sophomore effort and even better. The author has a true talent for developing kinda/sorta empathetic characters that are so incredibly flawed, their very existence is a miracle. Rage-filled kleptomaniac Libby Day is this story’s central character—the sole survivor of a family massacre when she was just 10 years old. The killer? Her then-15-year-old brother, Ben, a misfit in every sense of the word, who falls in with the wrong crowd and has the awful luck of developing an innocent crush on a witchy 10-year-old vixen.
When Libby finds herself low on cash and out of celebrity cache, she engages with a “Kill Club” whose sole purpose is to find the real killer of the Day clan and to free her brother, who they think has been wrongly accused. With promises of cash if she’ll meet with her brother, loser of of a father and others closely associated with the case, Libby finds herself reluctantly drawn to their cause. Don’t start this book until you know you have a good chunk of time. You will not want to put this down. This was a “Oh, I’ve got a red light — I can knock off a page” kind of book.
You only have time for one? If you’ve already read “Gone Girl,” then go with “Dark Places.” The writing style is similar, with transitions between character voices and time periods, so jumping into this book could feel seamless.