If you like: murders* family drama * pretending you’re a PI
In Dark Places, Libby is haunted by the murder of her mother and sisters one night when she was young, and her brother is currently serving time in prison for committing. The nightmare of the crime has shaped her entire life. The weight of the pain has made it impossible for her to live a normal life. Additionally, it has come to light that the circumstances around her testimony are suspicious, and events may not have occurred in the way she has been led to believe.
What I liked:
Using a non-sequential timeline and multiple points of view can sometimes seem like a gimmicky way of concealing the truth from the reader. In this case, it makes sense. Libby was a young child at the time of the events surrounding a murder. Often we only have a limited understanding of what really went on at that time, so the flashback chapters pair nicely with her present day investigations into what happened. It is not the case of an unreliable narrator purposely misleading the reader.
Libby is a perfect mess of a character. Her life was rough before her mother and sisters were murdered. Being guided to be the primary witness against her older brother who always favored her only makes the tragedy worse. It is easy to imagine suffering through that and then living in the spotlight of pity could permanently alter a person. But what happens when that pity is directed at a new tragedy, and you have developed no coping skills? Libby Day, a woman who barely knows how to make it through the day. Then Libby discovers what she has based her life around may be wrong anyway. She is the type of person you would expect to be despicable, or completely lazy. And maybe she is to a point. But, she also tries to find the truth, at the risk of her own life. She may think she is motivated by greed, but in the end she has an insatiable desire to find the truth. We all stumble through life in one way or another, but Libby does it spectacularly.
If you like something picking at old wounds, read Dark Places.
Flynn, Gillian. Dark Places: A Novel. Crown/Archetype, 2009. Kindle Edition.