Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, New York : Shaye Areheart Books, c2009.

Do you ever pick up novels from authors that you are familiar with or have enjoyed some of their previous novels so you have a high expectation for the overall outcome of your reading experience?  Gillian Flynn is an author that breaks down your expectations through her unique and interesting characters and the unexpected scenarios they find themselves in.

Dark Places is one of those novels in which the traumatizing event and its effect on our main character have produced an interesting person whom you can’t decide right away if you even like, but at the same time you empathize with so you don’t want to dislike them.  Libby Day was seven when she survived the slaughter of most of her family.  And even though she didn’t witness the actual event, she still testifies against her brother as the Satan worshiping culprit.  Twenty-five years later, she is broke and approached by a ‘kill club’ that is interested in finding out what really happened the night the Day family was killed, and oh yeah, they’ll pay Libby for every step she takes investigating that night.

Three hundred dollars to visit her brother, Ben, in prison for the first time, five hundred dollars to track down her dead-beat Dad and verify is alibi of that night.  Along the way, Libby discovers that there were more things happening in her families lives than she ever knew.  Accusation that her brother had molested a group of fifth grade girls was, the very day of the murders, being reported to the police, her Mom was informed that their family farm was going to be foreclosed on, and her brother’s secrets were too numerous to count.  Will she ever find out the truth?

Ms. Flynn has a way of bringing to light unique subjects and twisting them into an intriguing plot while at the same time creating characters that are so realistic you’re not even sure if you like them.  While characters sometimes frustrate, the intrigue of this plot keeps you engaged.  Jumping back and forth from Libby Day investigating in the present and Ben and Patty Day’s perspective on the day before the murders was so well done.  This novel and author continues to impress.

Susana Goldman is the Associate Director of Operations for the Alamance County Public Library.  She can be reached at (336) 290-8679 or sgoldman@alamancelibraries.org.