Dark Places (Paperback)
Broadway Books, 9780307341570, 368pp.
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (5/4/2009)
Paperback, Vietnamese (5/1/2014)
Hardcover, Large Print, Large Print (8/1/2009)
Paperback, Chinese (10/31/2012)
May 2009 Indie Next List
— Joe, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
View the List
Libby 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 society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben.
Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
Praise for Dark Places
“[A] nerve-fraying thriller.”—The New York Times
“Flynn’s well-paced story deftly shows the fallibility of memory and the lies a child tells herself to get through a trauma.”—The New Yorker
“Gillian Flynn coolly demolished the notion that little girls are made of sugar and spice in Sharp Objects, her sensuous and chilling first thriller. In Dark Places, her equally sensuous and chilling follow-up, Flynn . . . has conjured up a whole new crew of feral and troubled young females. . . . [A] propulsive and twisty mystery.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Flynn follows her deliciously creepy Sharp Objects with another dark tale . . . The story, alternating between the 1985 murders and the present, has a tense momentum that works beautifully. And when the truth emerges, it’s so macabre not even twisted little Libby Day could see it coming.”—People (4 stars)
“Crackles with peevish energy and corrosive wit.” —Dallas Morning News
“A riveting tale of true horror by a writer who has all the gifts to pull it off.”—Chicago Tribune
"It's Flynn's gift that she can make a caustic, self-loathing, unpleasant protagonist someone you come to root for.”—New York Magazine
“[A] gripping thriller.”—Cosmopolitan
"Gillian Flynn is the real deal, a sharp, acerbic, and compelling storyteller with a knack for the macabre.”—Stephen King
About the Author
Praise For Dark Places: A Novel…
A Weekend TODAY “Top Summer Read”
The New Yorker's Reviewers' Favorite from 2009
A 2009 Favorite Fiction Pick by The Chicago Tribune
“Another winner!”—Harlan Coben
“Gillian Flynn’s writing is compulsively good. I would rather read her than just about any other crime writer.”—Kate Atkinson
“Dark Places grips you from the first page and doesn't let go.”—Karin Slaughter
“With her blistering debut Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn hit the ground running. Dark Places demonstrates that was no fluke.”—Val McDermid
“Dark Places' Libby Day may seem unpleasant company at first–she's humoring those with morbid curiosities about her family's murders in order to get money out of them–but her steely nature and sharp tongue are compelling. 'I have a meanness inside me,'she says, 'real as an organ.'Yes she does, and by the end of this pitch-black novel, after we've loosened our grip on its cover and started breathing deeply again, we're glad Flynn decided to share it.”—Jessa Crispin, NPR
“Flynn returns to the front ranks of emerging thriller writers with her aptly titled new novel . . . Those who prefer their literary bones with a little bloody meat will be riveted.”—Portland Oregonian
“Gillian Flynn may turn out to be a more gothic John Irving for the 21st century, a writer who uses both a surgeon's scalpel and a set of rusty harrow discs to rip the pretty face off middle America.”—San Jose Mercury News
“The world of this novel is all underside, all hard flinch, and Flynn’s razor-sharp prose intensifies this effect as she knuckles in on every sentence. . . . The slick plotting in Dark Places will gratify the lover of a good thriller–but so, too, will Flynn’s prose, which is ferocious and unrelenting and pure pleasure from word one.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Gillian Flynn’s second novel, Dark Places, proves that her first – Sharp Objects – was no fluke. . . . tough, surprising crime fiction that dips its toes in the deeper waters of literary fiction.”—Chicago Sun-Times
"Flynn fully inhabits Libby—a damaged woman whose world has resided entirely in her own head for the majority of her life and who is prone to dark metaphors: 'Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.' Half the fun of DARK PLACES is Libby’s swampy psychology, which Flynn leads us through without the benefit of hip waders.”—Time Out Chicago
“Deliciously creepy...Flynn follows 250-some pages of masterful plotting and character development with a speedway pileup of pulse-pounding revelations.” —Chicago Reader
“A genuinely shocking denouement.” —Romantic Times
“Sardonic, riveting . . . Like Kate Atkinson, Flynn has figured out how to fuse the believable characters, silken prose and complex moral vision of literary fiction to the structure of a crime story. . . . You can sense trouble coming like a storm moving over the prairie, but can't quite detect its shape.” —Laura Miller, Salon
“These characters are fully realized—so true they could step off the page….hints of what truly happened to the Day family feel painfully, teasingly paced as they forge an irresistible trail to the truth….Could. Not. Stop. Reading.”—Bookreporter
“Libby’s voice is a pitch-perfect blend of surliness and emotionally charged imagery. . . . The Kansas in these pages is a bleak, deterministic place where bad blood and lies generate horrifically unintended consequences. Though there’s little redemption here, Flynn manages to unearth the humanity buried beneath the squalor.”—Bloomberg
“Set in the bleak Midwest of America, this evocation of small-town life and dysfunctional people is every bit as horribly fascinating as Capote’s journalistic retelling of a real family massacre, In Cold Blood, which it eerily resembles. This is only Flynn’ s second crime novel–her debut was the award-winning Sharp Objects–and demonstrates even more forcibly her precocious writing ability and talent for the macabre.”—Daily Mail (UK)
“Flynn’s second novel is a wonderful evocation of drab small-town life. The time-split narrative works superbly and the atmosphere is eerily macabre—Dark Places is even better than the author’s award-winning Sharp Objects.”—The Guardian (UK)
“A gritty, riveting thriller with a one-of-a-kind, tart-tongued heroine.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Flynn’s second crime thriller tops her impressive debut, Sharp Objects…When the truth emerges, it’s so twisted that even the most astute readers won’t have predicted it.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ…Draw a picture of my soul and it’d be a scribble with fangs.” What does Libby’s opening narration tell you about how she views herself? Do you agree with her description?
- The Kill Club is a macabre group obsessed with true crimes. Why do you think we are so interested in the murders of people we don’t know? Is the fascination exploitive, or does it serve some purpose?
- Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame effected her? Would she have been better adjusted had she never become famous?
- What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself? What emotions ultimately fuel her choices? Can you see yourself making the choices she makes?
- Libby, Patty and Ben Day all entertain thoughts of suicide. What does this say about the family? How does this depression effect their lives?
- Ben is painted as a wild devil worshiper. How fair do you think this portrait actually is? For those who grew up in the 1980s: Do you recall any instances of “Satanic Panic”? Why do you think this became such a widespread fear?
- Why do you think the author chose to set the murders on a farm? What images and themes does the heartland and farming evoke?
- “No one ever forgives me for anything,” one character says. What role does forgiveness play in Dark Places? Which characters should be more forgiving? Less?
- Throughout Dark Places, Libby, Patty and Ben unknowingly echo one other’s dialogue and thoughts. What is the author trying to say with this technique?
- Libby is a liar, a manipulator, a kleptomaniac, and an opportunist. Does she have any redeeming qualities? Are you able to empathize with her? If so, why?