Dark Places

Dark Places

From The #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Of Gone GirlLibby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and p...

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Title:Dark Places
Author:Gillian Flynn
Rating:
ISBN:0307341569
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:349 pages

Dark Places Reviews

  • Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
    Jun 06, 2009

    Normally I wouldn't give a genre book like this a 5-star review, because I'm picky and controlling about handing out major praise. How could a crime/mystery be as good as, say, Thomas Hardy or Alice Munro? Apples and oranges.

    But I just finished this about five minutes ago, and it made me gasp. It's so good -- a well-paced page-turner, beautifully wrought. I literally couldn't put it down for longer than a couple hours at a time once I picked it up (with the exception of sleep).

    According to her A

    Normally I wouldn't give a genre book like this a 5-star review, because I'm picky and controlling about handing out major praise. How could a crime/mystery be as good as, say, Thomas Hardy or Alice Munro? Apples and oranges.

    But I just finished this about five minutes ago, and it made me gasp. It's so good -- a well-paced page-turner, beautifully wrought. I literally couldn't put it down for longer than a couple hours at a time once I picked it up (with the exception of sleep).

    According to her Acknowledgements, Flynn did significant research to write this, and it shows -- it's assured, detailed, and often heart-wrenching. There are no loose ends, and when they tie up, they tie up so naturally, unfolding at such a realistic pace, that you feel like this could really have happened. Nothing -- except maybe for the Kill Club, the ball that gets the narrator Libby's investigation rolling -- is farfetched.

    For what this is -- a genre novel echoing In Cold Blood, crossed with southern gothic -- it's superior. But even outside the mystery/crime genre, this book is a better, more skillful, funnier, more emotional and more fascinating read than most of the literary fiction I've read lately.

    Libby Day is a fantastic heroine/anti-heroine; real, three dimensional, funny, dark, bent and broken, but not beyond repair. I so enjoyed taking this ride with her and am sorry the book had to end. This is very high praise coming from me, because I read constantly and I hardly ever have this feeling about anything. I can't wait to read "Sharp Objects," though I'm dreading it at the same time, because I really can't afford to let another book usurp all my time for three straight days.

  • Terry
    Jul 05, 2009

    Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects, was interestingly disturbing; in fact, it walked a razor-thin line between "Huh, you certainly don't read

    every day" and "Gillian Flynn has some serrrriiiious issues and I'm a little bit afraid of her". I wasn't sure whether I respected her extremely dark side or her dark side is so dark it makes her books kind of uncomfortable to read.

    Strangely enough (once you know the story outline) Dark Places actually has a more conventional plot than Sharp

    Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects, was interestingly disturbing; in fact, it walked a razor-thin line between "Huh, you certainly don't read

    every day" and "Gillian Flynn has some serrrriiiious issues and I'm a little bit afraid of her". I wasn't sure whether I respected her extremely dark side or her dark side is so dark it makes her books kind of uncomfortable to read.

    Strangely enough (once you know the story outline) Dark Places actually has a more conventional plot than Sharp Objects, and having just discussed Jodi Picoult at some length with Marie, I was totally in a place to read a book with alternating points of view which would normally exasperate me, I think. Some reviewers have pointed out there is absolutely no one to like in the book, but I agree with the reviewers who point out the fact that Libby is not at all likable is actually more compelling, because the stunted (in every possible way), damaged (in every possible way) adult she is is a response to the life she has lived. So I think it's a good thing that every character in the book is frustrating or enraging or downright disgusting. That's more truthful, really, I think.

    All that being said, I can't say I enjoyed the book. I certainly didn't put the book down; I read it in one day. But the device used to galvanize Libby into action in the beginning of the book is very, very weak and that put me off. Also, despite unconventional characters and a really, really, really, really REALLLLLLLY serious devotion to bloody crime scenes, in the end the book just devolves into a who-really-done-it mystery that felt kind of, well, dull. SOMEBODY done it, and we'd either find out eventually or Flynn would confound us with "ha ha, you'll never really know what happened!"--either way I wasn't really all that excited to find out who-really-done-it just because the whole red-herring "she did it! no, HE did it! no, another person entirely did it!" trope is boring and even disappointing, coming from Flynn.

    I'm not even sure which of Flynn's two books I like better. I am interested in reading her next book. Still, there is something off-putting at the same time about her... interests? Passions? She is

    serious about really studying really disturbed people doing really disturbing things and at some points in both books it feels... not over the top, but almost... well, creepy. She's like that strange neighborhood kid who lives in that weird house and who is a little too fascinated by chopping earthworms in half or seeing what happens when you burn ants, or something. I read just one of Lionel Shriver's books and it was so upsetting to me I absolutely refuse to ever read any of her books again, because she seemed to take a sly enjoyment in really pushing her characters into more and more awful places, mentally and physically. I don't quite feel that way about Flynn yet, but there's just something about her books that's too...hot-breathed for me.

  • Tatiana
    Jul 21, 2009

    As seen on

    Seriously, what goes on in

    's head? She writes the freakiest stuff.

    was nasty enough, and

    is just as vile. Luckily for her, I (along with millions of people) like vile now and then.

    Libby Day is a sole survivor of a horrendous massacre. Her mother and two sisters were brutally killed one winter night and, mostly thanks to Libby's testimony, the murders were attributed to Libby's older brother Ben, an alleged active Satan worshiper.

    As seen on

    Seriously, what goes on in

    's head? She writes the freakiest stuff.

    was nasty enough, and

    is just as vile. Luckily for her, I (along with millions of people) like vile now and then.

    Libby Day is a sole survivor of a horrendous massacre. Her mother and two sisters were brutally killed one winter night and, mostly thanks to Libby's testimony, the murders were attributed to Libby's older brother Ben, an alleged active Satan worshiper. Now, almost 25 years later, 32-year old Libby is out of money that had been donated to her by well-wishers over the years and must look for a new source of income. She settles on helping the Kill Club (a group of obsessed women who believe in Ben's innocence) to re-investigate the murders, for money of course. As Libby starts talking to various people involved in the original investigation at the Kill Club's request, her strong belief in Ben's guilt starts wavering...

    I am fairly certain now that

    's "schtick" is writing about

    women. We are presented with an array of them in

    - they lie to get attention, they abuse, they blackmail, they mooch, they kill, they are weak and pathetic. It is, no doubt, a novel approach to women empowerment. If women are equal to men, they can be equally despicable, right? The men are no better - they are good-for-nothing losers mostly. What I am getting at is that you can hardly find any likable characters in this book, which for many readers is a must (not me though).

    The story itself is gruesome. Prepare yourself for brutal killings, molestation, bullying, Satan worshiping, drugs and underage sex. Some parts are so tough to read, I had to put the book aside for awhile.

    But underneath the filth, there is a great mystery - well-paced, suspenseful, full of red herrings, it keeps you guessing until the very last moment who the perpetrator is.

    Just like

    , this book is absolutely not for everybody. But I thoroughly enjoyed this freaky thriller and will wait with anticipation for the release of

    's next macabre mystery.

  • Kemper
    Jun 25, 2010

    As someone who grew up in rural Kansas and has lived in the suburbs of Kansas City for the last fourteen years, I made my peace long ago with the fact that I don’t reside in one of the hip places on the map. The only Kansas based things that have worked their way into popular culture are

    and that goddamn

    . (As a Kansan, I listen to everyone I’ve met from somewhere else do the “I guess you’re not in Kansas anymore! Ha ha!” thing and can barely resist the urge to punch th

    As someone who grew up in rural Kansas and has lived in the suburbs of Kansas City for the last fourteen years, I made my peace long ago with the fact that I don’t reside in one of the hip places on the map. The only Kansas based things that have worked their way into popular culture are

    and that goddamn

    . (As a Kansan, I listen to everyone I’ve met from somewhere else do the “I guess you’re not in Kansas anymore! Ha ha!” thing and can barely resist the urge to punch them in the throat.)

    But it seems like every book, film or tv show is set in either New York or L.A. with a few other places like Miami, Chicago or Boston thrown in now and then. I think half the reason I’m such a huge fan of John Sandford is that most of his books are set in Minneapolis, and he’s shown that there actually is life in the Midwest. I know that the folks who run the various entertainment industries like to talk about getting us off our tractors long enough to sample their wares, but it seems like the only attempts to include us in the stories either mock us as morons or sentimentalize small town life to vomit inducing degrees.

    Gillian Flynn is originally from Kansas City, and her first book was very well received so I was excited to hear that

    was set in both rural Kansas and K.C. Of course, it involved the slaughter of a family on the prairie, going back to the

    thing, but I’ll take what I can get. I was excited to get one of the rare chances to read a story set in the place I live.

    Unfortunately, Flynn didn’t do her old hometown any favors because it seems like she singled out every depressing aspect like the run down old stockyards and warehouse district that’s got some of the worst urban decay in the area. Or I-70 between K.C. and St. Louis that is filled with tacky billboards and low rent strip clubs. One restaurant that she uses as a location recently burned to the ground, and its owner is charged with arson. I know she was telling a story about the aftermath of a brutal crime and how it screwed up the sole survivor, but damn! Would it have killed her to have a character pop down to Power & Light for a drink? The K.C. tourism board would have thanked her for it.

    Enough of my bitching. About the book: Back in 1985 on a rundown Kansas farm, a mother and two daughters are brutally killed. Young Libby Day manages to survive by fleeing the house, and it’s her testimony that convicts her fifteen year old brother Ben of the crime. Supposedly, Ben was a Satan worshipping freak who went shotgun and axe happy one winter night.

    In the present, thirty-one year old Libby is a freaking mess. She doesn’t make it out of bed some days, she’s a kleptomaniac, she has no friends, and she usually can’t even manage to take care of simple things like remembering to buy cat food, wash her sheets or fill her ice cube trays.

    Libby has been living off the trust fund that started when donations poured in after the murders, but the money is about to run out. Desperate, Libby agrees to a paid appearance for the Kill Club, a group of amateur investigators who think that her brother is innocent. Libby doesn’t even want to think about her brother, but offers of more cash get her motivated to start visiting people connected to the murders. Suddenly, Libby isn’t so sure that Ben was the killer after all.

    The story is told in two parallel ways. We get Libby’s first person account of her activities in the present, while a third person narrative of the last day of her family gives us the background of what happened in 1985.

    This is a character based mystery, and Flynn does a great job with both the struggling Libby in the present and the family in 1985. The stark reality of a poor farm family in the mid-’80s along with Libby’s pathetic life as an adult makes for a pretty depressing story, but Flynn really sucks the reader into the plight of everyone involved. I was somewhat let down by the ending, but I can’t say much about that without spoilers.

    While this book probably won’t convince anyone to move to Kansas, it’s a good read for those who don’t mind a raw story about just how much life can sometimes suck, even if you don’t get chopped to bits with an axe.

  • Emily May
    Jun 29, 2012

    I highly recommend reading this whilst sitting in the sun with plenty of happy people around you (as I did) - that way you can avoid contracting something evil and nasty from its pages, and also avoid losing any hope you had for humanity.

    Okay, sorry, I make it sound so negative when actually this book is pretty fantastic if you can stomach the

    I highly recommend reading this whilst sitting in the sun with plenty of happy people around you (as I did) - that way you can avoid contracting something evil and nasty from its pages, and also avoid losing any hope you had for humanity.

    Okay, sorry, I make it sound so negative when actually this book is pretty fantastic if you can stomach the horrors within. I ate this up in a couple of days, finding every opportunity to read that I could... Flynn certainly has a talent for dragging you into her stories and having them take you over until you find out just what the hell is going on.

    As much as I enjoyed its dark predecessor -

    - I think

    was, for me,

    .

    I had many theories as to what was going on and all of them were wrong. You know, I honestly think that writing a mystery story must be the most difficult of all, because the reader is your enemy. Most readers of mystery stories will analyse the information they're given, pull it apart, and try desperately to solve the mystery before the characters do - and yet, if they are successful, they feel disappointed. For an author to manage to pull out something both surprising and convincingly real at the end of all this, they have to have a talent for it.

    alternates between the present day and 1985 when Ben Day allegedly massacred three members of his family, his sister - Libby - being the only one to escape and testify as a witness, sending Ben to a life in prison. Now, after years of living on the donations made by concerned members of the public, Libby Day has finally run out of money and is forced to earn some cash by making an appearance at a group meeting where the members believe Ben is innocent. At first, Libby is willing to write them off as crazy fanatics with a grisly obsession... but as more information is presented to her, she starts to question what really happened all those years ago.

    The story is told from three main points of view and, to say I'm not a fan of multiple perspectives, I thought it was done excellently. Patty Day is an exhausted mother-of-four who starts to fear her son is becoming involved in satanic rituals; torn between wanting to protect him and being a little afraid of what his behaviour means, we begin to question through her eyes whether the heavy metal-loving loner could really have it in him to become a murderer.

    Then we have Ben Day's point of view. Being inside his mind is a little frightening - we see how his thoughts become increasingly dark, how just wanting to have something normal can lead to the most abnormal behaviour... but does that mean he would really murder his family?

    And, of course, there is Libby Day. Libby Day is the reason I think I enjoy Flynn's novels so much. She is so imperfect, complex, selfish, violent... but somehow you manage to stay on her side. I have no idea how the author manages this, but I've always loved a protagonist with issues, the kind of issues that make them lash out in ways that would make you hate them if you weren't inside their head, understanding them. She does some horrible things and, though you don't necessarily forgive her for them, you are able to see why.

    If you're okay reading about filth, gore, and underage sex, then you should dive into this mystery straight away and immerse yourself in the disturbing but awesome mental workings of

    .

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  • karen
    Aug 03, 2012

    gillian flynn sure does love writing about horrible people doing horrible things.and i sure do love reading about them. especially because she isn't one of those writers coasting on shock value and "can you belieeeeeve a delicate flower of a woman is writing this??" but she can really tell a story and i, for one, was completely surprised and pleased by the ending o

    gillian flynn sure does love writing about horrible people doing horrible things.and i sure do love reading about them. especially because she isn't one of those writers coasting on shock value and "can you belieeeeeve a delicate flower of a woman is writing this??" but she can really tell a story and i, for one, was completely surprised and pleased by the ending of this one.

    libby's mother and two older sisters were murdered when she was seven years old, apparently in some sort of satanic bloodbath masterminded by her older brother ben. she escaped and was instrumental in getting him put behind bars, in one of those "lean on the kid and make them say what needs to be said to convict someone" situations. twenty-five years later, she is a mess - a flat broke kleptomaniac, pissed off at the world, and terrible at any social expectations, until she is approached by a group whose specialty is studying violent crimes, trading memorabilia, constructing alternate scenarios of horrorshows; criminal tourists. and libby pumps them for cash while promising to look into the crime she lived through, and reconnect with her brother and father in order to solve a crime she believes has already been solved.

    but it is far from over, man. there are all kinds of things she is going to learn about that night, and about her family, and about her own self.

    and it's going to get creepy.

    it is great, great, great. it is not perfect - i personally had some difficulties with character motivation and behavior, but it doesn't matter because it all works within flynn's dirty little world, and she manages to convince you that these characters are going to do what they are going to do within their need-spheres, and just because it doesn't make sense to youuuuu, just be thankful for that, yeah?

    it is really chilling stuff - oh, god - remember the frenzy of satanic finger-pointing of the 80's? there were cults everywhere, right? all the animal sacrifices and the heavy metal music and the teenage killers under the spell of the dark one? and even though none of it ever panned out into anything, that frenzy, that imagined threat was so convincing to so many pearl-clutching mothers. it would be adorable now, except for reading this book, and remembering that actual people were accused and convicted because of half-whispered urban legends. oops.

    it's a great bloody crime story. its pacing is sublime; she always knows just how far to take the reader before switching up the focus to cause the maximum amount of anticipatory distress, she knows how to cover her tracks and how to deliver the most effective kaboom of an ending. and you might not

    any of these characters, but you will still sympathize with them, despite your better instincts.

    i seem to have run out of gillian flynn books.

    more, please.

  • Raeleen Lemay
    May 01, 2013

    I have now officially read all of Gillian Flynn's books, and I really enjoyed this one!

    The story and the characters were so twisted, and the last hour or so of the audiobook was insaaaane.

  • Alejandro
    Jul 29, 2014

    This is my second novel by Gillian Flynn, and now I am realizing that I have been reading them backwards, I mean in the opposite publishing order, but this has been due mainly the order of film adaptations. However, I won’t wait until having any film adaptation of

    , to read that one. I do hope to read it in the following months.

    My reading experience with

    wasn’t any good

    This is my second novel by Gillian Flynn, and now I am realizing that I have been reading them backwards, I mean in the opposite publishing order, but this has been due mainly the order of film adaptations. However, I won’t wait until having any film adaptation of

    , to read that one. I do hope to read it in the following months.

    My reading experience with

    wasn’t any good as I would expect,

    I have to admit that it has a really unique narration style making it worhty to be in anyone’s TBR book list. And odd enough I enjoyed

    the film adaptation of that one, while I watched after reading the book and taking in account that it’s basically the same story, but I enjoyed it better in the movie format.

    I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this book,

    , but happily I can say that the reading experience with this novel was truly wonderful. Maybe it lacks of more intense action at the climax (I won't spoil it, don't worry), but definitely I enjoy a lot the whole reading experience of the book.

    I am truly glad of deciding to read it. I still have to watch the movie (at the moment that I am writing this review) but I hope to be able to watch it soon.

    is the tragic and grim story of the Day Family, told in the voices of Libby Day (main character), Patty Day (her mother) and Ben Day (his brother).

    Libby’s family had just the opposite a nice day, like 25 years ago...

    ...her mother and her two other sisters were murdered and Ben, his brother was charged with the killings, getting a conviction where Libby’s testimony was a key factor for it.

    Now, Libby is an adult woman, and very soon she will be totally penniless. She got many donations around the country (United States), mainly at the momento of the tragedy, and she has been able to dispose of the money too good. She never studied, never worked, never did anything.

    Libby is exposed to a singular kind of fans about unsolved murders or cases where the convictions have something wrong. A Killing Club, reuniting former cops, former detectives and even regular people interested about police cases. She is shocked to know that there are too many people believing that his brother is innocent, and her own doubts about what really happened that terrible night, 25 years ago, are starting to increase big.

    Between her personal reasons of wanting to know what really happened that dark night and her current struggling economic status, Libby thinks that she can kill two birds with one stone, since this “Killing Club” is willing to pay her enough money to go and interview the people involved in the case and since she is Libby Day, there is a high potential that that people would open in an easier way to her than strangers.

    Readers will get to know, slowly but methodically, exactly what happened that terrible day, having chapters with the voice of Libby right now, but also the voices of Patty and Ben, but those two set back in the past, on that fateful day. Present and past will be intermixed offering the pieces of the puzzle that the readers want to put together,

    it won’t be easy since human beings are natural liars and the Day Family isn’t better if not worse.

    It’s obvious that the case of the Day Family’s murders wasn’t handle as it should, but it’s amazing how easy an alibi can be stated. Unless there is some evidence putting you in the crime scene, it seems that basically you only need to convince somebody else to say that you were with him/her at the moment of the crime, and bam! You’re off the hook!

    Nobody is perfect, but certainly the Day Family never tried any hard to be one. You will have an unique access to the minds and feeling of three of the main members of the family, but also, thanks to them, you will get to know the rest of members of this broken kindred.

    You won’t have heroes here. Only survivors. And certainly when money is scarse, the Day Family doesn’t hesitate to make crazy hard calls.

    Blood is thicker than water, so families’ bonds are strong to smash, but also, families aren’t a static things but in constant evolution, and due that bloods can become even more thicker, specially if something isn’t quite right (to say the least) in your head.

    A mystery is something great, it’s something wonderful, since a mystery always is screaming to be solved. A mystery exists to be solved...

    ...but a secret?

    A secret is something intimidating, it’s something maddening, since a secret always is silently screaming to remain unspoken, hidden. Knowing about the existence of a secret is a contradiction itself.

    Therefore, people do their best to keep the secrets, but it’s something too heavy, so, to lighten some of the burden, people become crafty to “expose” the secret at plain sight, but in a clever way.

    Even dark places aren’t enough to keep a secret.

    Meet the Day Family...

    ...at your own risk!

  • Kat O'Keeffe
    Aug 09, 2015

    I loved the writing style and the characterization so much--Gillian Flynn is a fantastic author! And I was so hooked by the mystery right away, I just flew through this book. Toward the end I did feel like we lost a little steam, but all the twists and revelations still kept things interesting, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed this! Definitely looking forward to seeing the movie, and probably picking up Gone Girl very soon here!

  • Ana
    Nov 17, 2015

    {BR with Scarlet}

    I have no emotions left.

    This is a book that will stay with me forever. It left me speechless in different ways, with pretty intense emotions from anger and sadness coupled with hopelessness.

    This is not just a thriller/mystery/suspense novel but an absolute psychological roller coaster. I found myself almost too scared to keep reading, but so riveted I just HAD to find out what would happen

    {BR with Scarlet}

    I have no emotions left.

    This is a book that will stay with me forever. It left me speechless in different ways, with pretty intense emotions from anger and sadness coupled with hopelessness.

    This is not just a thriller/mystery/suspense novel but an absolute psychological roller coaster. I found myself almost too scared to keep reading, but so riveted I just HAD to find out what would happen next.

    Gillian Flynn is an amazing writer, with the kind of storytelling and style that will have you biting your nails in anticipation. Just when I thought I knew where it was going it would take me on another track altogether. The book is outstanding, in the way it is written, and the issues it covers.

    I love broken characters. As long as I find their struggle compelling, I’ll get on board with the most degenerate, immoral characters imaginable.

    The main character, Libby, is one of the most compelling characters I've ever read. She is a very complex character. She isn't good or bad, she's just heartbroken and frightened. Libby is definitely the biggest victim in the book, but she also makes mistakes, and says some pretty harsh things.

    No one in this book is portrayed as being completely innocent. There are all sorts of crazy characters in this novel- some of them crazier than others.

    Dark Places is startling in its honesty about life, destructive human behavior and mental health. I wasn’t even really bothered by the plot twists that were a bit far-fetched. The experience of reading the book was excellent enough for me to not really care about that.

    There really is nothing else to say other than this is an excellent book and I enjoyed it immensely.