DARK PLACES

5/5 stars

  • Author: Gillian Flynn
  • Publication date: 5.5.2009
  • Shaye Areheart Books

“I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.” Gillian Flynn, Dark Places

Gillian Flynn is the MUTHA of all domestic noir. She’s my spirit animal. I feel defensive about her books, I think sometimes she gets a bad rap because her novels are so dark. Her characters unlikeable. Her plots are crazy. True, true, true.

Underneath it all, it is impossible to overlook her talent in characterization. Every book I read in this genre, I cannot help but compare the writing to Flynn’s.

She can craft a character out of thin air that is as real to a reader as the book they are holding. She doesn’t just tell about a character, she SHOWS us the character. The mannerisms, the habits, the insecurities, the tics and tells of their face. How they walk, talk, eat, drink, drive a car. As a reader, you are whisked into her novels for the plot and get so much more in return. My favorite kind of book!

Libby Day, our flawed protagonist, is one carefully constructed and disturbed character. She is the sole survivor of a Kansas massacre. Final Girls, anyone? The story begins 25 years after the murders and Libby Day is being dragged into resolving the mystery by a group of true crime aficionados (even though she fingered her own brother as the killer). The setting is rural, impoverished America; a stark contrast with most of the urban London-ish settings in this genre.

This is my least favorite of Flynn’s books, mainly because the plot is too crazy and contrived even for me. However, the writing is so first rate, I gladly give it full 5 stars.
Amazon  Dark Places

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SHARP OBJECTS

5/5 Stars

  • Author: Gillian Flynn
  • Published in 2006
  • Broadway Paperbacks

“I just think some women aren’t made to be mothers. And some women aren’t made to be daughters.”
― Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects

This is one of the darkest, most disturbing books I’ve ever read. And I love it. Well, today I love it. I picked it up years ago, started reading and was like “no way Jose”. I had read Dark Places and Gone Girl and, of course, thought I could handle Sharp Objects, the Gillian Flynn debut. I wasn’t ready at the time for this little monster of a book.

The extremely creepy plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Just a few of the themes include dysfunctional families, violence and self-harm. But there is so much more.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve read a lot of blasé, boring domestic noir lately. Give me a book with some meat on its bones! Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter got my motor running again and I just couldn’t go back to some of those wimpy “beach book” mysteries quite yet.

If you’re caught in a summer stagnation, wake yourself up with this book. It’s probably lying on a shelf in your house somewhere. Just prepare yourself. Flynn is an expert “description giver” and some of the things she describes are not pretty. At all. As in sick, sick, sick.

Yes, the characters are seriously f****d up! I don’t need my heroine to be shiny and pristine. Every person in this story has got issues.  Who knows what kind of childhood some people endure? Aren’t you curious as to WHY they are weird? I always am!

I know some readers are all, “but, I don’t really like the characters, I can’t root for anyone…” Ok, then this book isn’t for you. But, I’m telling you, Gillian Flynn is a master at blueprinting the human psyche into a living breathing character that you won’t soon, if ever, forget. You’ll probably even have a nightmare or two, after all, Stephen King is a huge Flynn fan.

Sharp Objects If you can’t find a copy around your house, click here to purchase this paperback book now!

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

5/5 stars

  • Member of the Twister Hall of Fame
  • Author: Paula Hawkins
  • Published January 13th 2015 by Riverhead Books

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

The Girl on the Train: A Novel Amazon Great Kindle Deal!

This story is actually told from three women’s points of view. For all intents and purposes, you will only remember Rachel. She’s the main character and her drunken memories help to create, dare I say it?  The all-time MOST UNRELIABLE  NARRATOR in literary history.  That’s why I love this book so much!  Well, one of the reasons. Actually, every character in this book is unreliable. Who can you trust? NO ONE. Put the clues together and solve this mystery yourself.

The new label being thrown around these days is “domestic noir” and I believe describes this sub-genre much better than “psychological thriller”or “chick” noir (ick).  This is the tribe of books I have embraced. And millions others. We may be in danger of overdosing on domestic noir now.

The novelist, Julia Crouch, described the subgenre in her blog in 2013. “In a nutshell, Domestic Noir takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants.”

Paula Hawkins set the domestic noir scene on fire with this book. We had all been waiting (2 years!) for someone to replace Gillian Flynn on the bestseller list and she did it. Girl on the the Train is a much more delicious variation on the textbook standard that Gone Girl had established. I think it is an easier, faster read than Gone Girl and not as cynically, bitterly dark and depressing as Gone Girl.

The highly anticipated movie version of The Girl on the Train left me deflated. I thought The_Girl_on_The_Trainit was shot in such a slick manner, way too glossy while the book was unabashedly gritty. I couldn’t get past that! Oh, Hollywood. What are ya gonna do about it?  I love Emily Blunt as Rachel. But, the movie is a miss. Read the book.

BTW: the Audible version is outstanding.

GONE GIRL

5/5 Stars

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Well, this is it. THE book that started the psychological suspense craze in novels over the last 5 years. Gillian Flynn’s third book is a legitimate masterpiece. Even the movie was stunning (which rarely happens).

I’m a big fan as you can tell. (I’m also crazy about SHARP OBJECTS and DARK PLACESher first and second novels).

Exploring the malevolent side of ordinary people and taking a peek into their murderous motivations is an endless fascination for me.  After reading at least a few hundred similar books, I realize more than ever how special this one is. The New York Times called this book “ice-pick sharp”.  I agree.

It is biting and witty; a fast paced perfect story of love and marriage, murder and revenge.

Click here if you need your Gillian Flynn copies from Amazon!