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Book Review: Dark Places

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Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon.
Pages: 448

When I bought the entire Gillian Flynn collection consisting of 'Gone Girl', 'Sharp Objects' and this one, I saved this story for the last as I had read really wonderful reviews about it. People were raving about the mystery and I couldn't wait to dig into it. I always save the best for the last and I did the same with this one too. So, was it worth it? Read on.

The Day's are as dysfunctional as a family can get. Head by Patty Day, a divorcee who is struggling to make ends meet, this family is anything but happy. Patty's only wealth is her family farm that is not able to give her enough returns and her four children, Benjamin, Michelle, Debbie and Libby. Her ex-husband Runner walks in and out of her life as her likes with the only intention of squeezing as much money as he can from her. And he is willing to go to any lengths for it. Patty's only solace and friend is her sister Diane, who helps her out emotionally and financially time and again. Ben is a troubled kid and hates his sisters, his mother and his poor life. His girlfriend Diondra spends money on him and laughs at him at the same time. Her friend Trey laughs at Ben for this poor lifestyle. There also are rumors spread about Ben that only makes him more infamous. In short, Ben is disturbed by everything around him.

When Patty, Michelle and Debbie are found brutally killed one fine morning, the first suspicion moves towards Ben. Seven year old Libby was the only one who escaped that night and she also happens to be the key witness to this gruesome crime. She testifies against her brother whom she swears she heard talking to their mother before she was shot. Ben is now in prison and Libby is left to the mercy of well wishers and Diane. Twenty five years later, when Libby finds out that her funds are almost extinct, she agrees to help out a club who are obsessed with the case of her family's murder. The Kill Club headed by Lyle Wirth swears that Ben is not the killer and that something else must have happened that day. As time passes and truths are exposed, Libby learns that Ben in fact cannot be the killer. But who else would want to wipe out an entire family for no reason? Can it be her father Runner? Or was it someone else altogether? Or is Ben hiding something?

The main story is told from Libby's point of view and it flows really quick and in a structured manner. The parallel POV's are that of Patty and Ben and the story toggles between past and present every now and then and yet remains easy to read and not confusing. I must say that I love Gillian Flynn's style of writing, but this story in general did not please me. I loved the premise the book sets. The tragedy, the poverty, the survival and the reckoning is brilliantly shown, and yet the story seems to lack a certain level of intrigue in it. I did predict the ending halfway through the book, but it only turned out to be half the ending. The other half seemed very juvenile and did not go with the story. Especially with the character in question. Convinced, I was not.

As characters, your heart does go out to Patty Day and you feel for her. The troubled kid Ben is easy to identify with as most of us have faced battles while growing up, but he is not given enough space in the story. Technically the whole story should revolve around him, but Libby being the eyes of the story was probably not the right choice. Libby is the most lazy character I've ever read. Even if you sympathize with her for her back story, the fact that someone survived only on donated money for twenty five years and did not bother to make a living for herself is something that troubles me a lot. If you have had a hard time growing up, that should make you twice stronger to survive later. Or am I the only one who thinks so?

The book is a good read. The mystery is interlaced with other aspects of human emotions and you want to be a part of it instantly. The narration is fast paced and it makes you want to not put the book down. The story however, needed a bit more something.

Verdict: Dark, yes. Thrilling, yes. Predictable, well almost. But sure worth a read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


  1. Like you, her series of books have been bought too. Yet to read them though, I have to admit :)
    But I will take 3.5 out of 5 stars :D

    1. Do read it and let me know how you liked it :)

  2. The book cover seems intriguing. POV (of a seven year old, Libby) makes it even more interesting. Nice review. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I loved this book :) Glad you liked it too :D I like these kind of thrillers more than Sharp Objects. :)

  4. Out of her books that I have read so far, Gone Girl is so far my favourite.. There was something lacking in Dark Places for me but still a good read as you say..

    1. Gone Girl was just brilliant! This one does miss something.

  5. I loved gone girl... must pick this up... thanks for the recommendation


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