Dark Places

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Overview

FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF GONE GIRL

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 secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free ...

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Overview

FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF GONE GIRL

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 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Named one of the Best Books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly

A Weekend TODAY “Top Summer Read”

The New Yorker's Reviewers' Favorite from 2009

A 2009 Favorite Fiction Pick by The Chicago Tribune

“[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

"In her first psychological thriller, Sharp Objects, Flynn created a world unsparingly grim and nasty (the heroine carves words into her own flesh) written with irresistibly mordant humor. The sleuth in her equally disturbing and original second novel is Libby Day....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

“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.org

“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

“Clever, engrossing and disturbing….[DARK PLACES] should cement [Flynn’s] place in the great authors of crime fiction.”
Crimespree

“[D]eliciously 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.com

“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.com

“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.com

“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

“The sole survivor of a family massacre is pushed into revisiting a past she’d much rather leave alone, in Flynn’s scorching follow-up to Sharp Objects . . . Flynn intercuts Libby’s venomous detective work with flashbacks to the fatal day 24 years ago so expertly that as they both hurtle toward unspeakable revelations, you won’t know which one you’re more impatient to finish. . . . every sentence crackles with enough baleful energy to fuel a whole town through the coldest Kansas winter.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Once in a while a book comes along that puts a new spin on an old idea. More than 40 years ago, Truman Capote took readers inside the Clutter farmhouse in Holcomb, KS, to show them what it was like to walk in a killer's shoes. Flynn takes modern readers back to Kansas to explore the fictional 1985 Day family massacre from the perspective of a survivor as well as the suspects. . . . tight plotting and engaging characters.”
Library Journal

Marilyn Stasio
Love her or loathe her, Libby Day won't be forgotten without a fight.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Edgar-finalist Flynn's second crime thriller tops her impressive debut, Sharp Objects. When Libby Day's mother and two older sisters were slaughtered in the family's Kansas farmhouse, it was seven-year-old Libby's testimony that sent her 15-year-old brother, Ben, to prison for life. Desperate for cash 24 years later, Libby reluctantly agrees to meet members of the Kill Club, true crime enthusiasts who bicker over famous cases. She's shocked to learn most of them believe Ben is innocent and the real killer is still on the loose. Though initially interested only in making a quick buck hocking family memorabilia, Libby is soon drawn into the club's pseudo-investigation, and begins to question what exactly she saw-or didn't see-the night of the tragedy. Flynn fluidly moves between cynical present-day Libby and the hours leading up to the murders through the eyes of her family members. When the truth emerges, it's so twisted that even the most astute readers won't have predicted it. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Once in a while a book comes along that puts a new spin on an old idea. More than 40 years ago, Truman Capote (with In Cold Blood) took readers inside the Clutter farmhouse in Holcomb, KS, to show them what it was like to walk in a killer's shoes. Flynn (Sharp Objects) takes modern readers back to Kansas to explore the fictional 1985 Day family massacre from the perspective of a survivor as well as the suspects. In order to identify the true killer, an adult Libby Day must come to terms with the traumatic events of her childhood, when her mother and two sisters were slaughtered. Although Flynn sometimes struggles with the large cast of characters she has amassed, each with his or her own set of volatile foibles, and complicates matters by dealing with them in both the present and the past, the tight plotting and engaging characters carry the reader over the few rough patches that appear. For all public libraries.
—Nancy McNicol

Kirkus Reviews
The sole survivor of a family massacre is pushed into revisiting a past she'd much rather leave alone, in Flynn's scorching follow-up to Sharp Objects (2006). On a January night in 1985, Michelle Day, ten, was strangled, her nine-year-old sister, Debby, killed with an ax, and their mother, Patty, stabbed, hacked and shot to death in the family farmhouse. Weeks after jumping out a window and running off in the Kansas snow, Libby Day, seven, testified that her brother Ben, 15, had killed the family, and he was sent to prison for life amid accusations of sex and Satanism. End of story-except that now that the fund well-wishers raised for Libby has run dry, she has to raise some cash pronto, and her family history turns once more into an ATM. A letter from Lyle Wirth promises her a quick $500 to attend the annual convention of the Kill Club, whose members gather to trade theories about unsolved crimes. When self-loathing Libby ("Draw a picture of my soul, it'd be a scribble with fangs") realizes that none of the club members believes her story, she reluctantly agrees to earn some more cash by digging up the leading players: Ben, whose letters she's never opened; their long-departed father Runner, who's as greedy and unscrupulous as Libby; Krissi Cates, the little girl who'd spent the day before the murders accusing Ben of molesting her; and Ben's rich, sleazy girlfriend Diondra Wertzner. Flynn intercuts Libby's venomous detective work with flashbacks to the fatal day 24 years ago so expertly that as they both hurtle toward unspeakable revelations, you won't know which one you're more impatient to finish. Only the climax, which is incredible in both good ways and bad, is a letdown. For most ofthe wild story's running time, however, every sentence crackles with enough baleful energy to fuel a whole town through the coldest Kansas winter. Author events in Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307341570
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 109
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 5.20 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Gillian Flynn

GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the runaway hit Gone Girl, an international sensation that has spent more than seventy-five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Her work has been published in forty languages. Gone Girl is soon to be a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox. Flynn’s previous novels, Dark Places and Dagger Award winner Sharp Objects, were also New York Times bestsellers. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, she lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

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Read an Excerpt

Libby Day

Now

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It’s the Day blood. Something’s wrong with it. I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders. Little Orphan Libby grew up sullen and boneless, shuffled around a group of lesser relatives—second cousins and great-aunts and friends of friends—stuck in a series of mobile homes or rotting ranch houses all across Kansas. Me going to school in my dead sisters’ hand-me-downs: Shirts with mustardy armpits. Pants with baggy bottoms, comically loose, held on with a raggedy belt cinched to the farthest hole. In class photos my hair was always crooked—barrettes hanging loosely from strands, as if they were airborne objects caught in the tangles—and I always had bulging pockets under my eyes, drunk-landlady eyes. Maybe a grudging curve of the lips where a smile should be. Maybe.

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.

It was miserable, wet-bone March and I was lying in bed thinking about killing myself, a hobby of mine. Indulgent afternoon daydreaming: A shotgun, my mouth, a bang and my head jerking once, twice, blood on the wall. Spatter, splatter. “Did she want to be buried or cremated?” people would ask. “Who should come to the funeral?” And no one would know. The people, whoever they were, would just look at each other’s shoes or shoulders until the silence settled in and then someone would put on a pot of coffee, briskly and with a fair amount of clatter. Coffee goes great with sudden death.

I pushed a foot out from under my sheets, but couldn’t bring myself to connect it to the floor. I am, I guess, depressed. I guess I’ve been depressed for about twenty-four years. I can feel a better version of me somewhere in there—hidden behind a liver or attached to a bit of spleen within my stunted, childish body—a Libby that’s telling me to get up, do something, grow up, move on. But the meanness usually wins out. My brother slaughtered my family when I was seven. My mom, two sisters, gone: bang bang, chop chop, choke choke. I didn’t really have to do anything after that, nothing was expected.

I inherited $321,374 when I turned eighteen, the result of all those well-wishers who’d read about my sad story, do-gooders whose hearts had gone out to me. Whenever I hear that phrase, and I hear it a lot, I picture juicy doodle-hearts, complete with bird-wings, flapping toward one of my many crap-ass childhood homes, my little-girl self at the window, waving and grabbing each bright heart, green cash sprinkling down on me, thanks, thanks a ton! When I was still a kid, the donations were placed in a conservatively managed bank account, which, back in the day, saw a jump about every three–four years, when some magazine or news station ran an update on me. Little Libby’s Brand New Day: The Lone Survivor of the Prairie Massacre Turns a Bittersweet 10. (Me in scruffy pigtails on the possum-pissed lawn outside my Aunt Diane’s trailer. Diane’s thick tree-calves, exposed by a rare skirt, planted on the trailer steps behind me.) Brave Baby Day’s Sweet 16! (Me, still miniature, my face aglow with birthday candles, my shirt too tight over breasts that had gone D-cup that year, comic-book sized on my tiny frame, ridiculous, porny.)

I’d lived off that cash for more than thirteen years, but it was almost gone. I had a meeting that afternoon to determine exactly how gone. Once a year the man who managed the money, an unblinking, pink-cheeked banker named Jim Jeffreys, insisted on taking me to lunch, a “checkup,” he called it. We’d eat something in the twenty-dollar range and talk about my life—he’d known me since I was this-high, after all, heheh. As for me, I knew almost nothing about Jim Jeffreys, and never asked, viewing the appointments always from the same kid’s-eye view: Be polite, but barely, and get it over with. Single-word answers, tired sighs. (The one thing I suspected about Jim Jeffreys was that he must be Christian, churchy—he had the patience and optimism of someone who thought Jesus was watching.) I wasn’t due for a “checkup” for another eight or nine months, but Jim Jeffreys had nagged, leaving phone messages in a serious, hushed voice, saying he’d done all he could to extend the “life of the fund,” but it was time to think about “next steps.”

And here again came the meanness: I immediately thought about that other little tabloid girl, Jamie Something, who’d lost her family the same year—1985. She’d had part of her face burned off in a fire her dad set that killed everyone else in her family. Any time I hit the ATM, I think of that Jamie girl, and how if she hadn’t stolen my thunder, I’d have twice as much money. That Jamie Whatever was out at some mall with my cash, buying fancy handbags and jewelry and buttery department-store makeup to smooth onto her shiny, scarred face. Which was a horrible thing to think, of course. I at least knew that.

Finally, finally, finally I pulled myself out of bed with a stage- effect groan and wandered to the front of my house. I rent a small brick bungalow within a loop of other small brick bungalows, all of which squat on a massive bluff overlooking the former stockyards of Kansas City. Kansas City, Missouri, not Kansas City, Kansas. There’s a difference.

My neighborhood doesn’t even have a name, it’s so forgotten. It’s called Over There That Way. A weird, subprime area, full of dead ends and dog crap. The other bungalows are packed with old people who’ve lived in them since they were built. The old people sit, gray and pudding-like, behind screen windows, peering out at all hours. Sometimes they walk to their cars on careful elderly tiptoes that make me feel guilty, like I should go help. But they wouldn’t like that. They are not friendly old people—they are tight-lipped, pissed-off old people who do not appreciate me being their neighbor, this new person. The whole area hums with their disapproval. So there’s the noise of their disdain and there’s the skinny red dog two doors down who barks all day and howls all night, the constant background noise you don’t realize is driving you crazy until it stops, just a few blessed moments, and then starts up again. The neighborhood’s only cheerful sound I usually sleep through: the morning coos of toddlers. A troop of them, round-faced and multilayered, walk to some daycare hidden even farther in the rat’s nest of streets behind me, each clutching a section of a long piece of rope trailed by a grown-up. They march, penguin-style, past my house every morning, but I have not once seen them return. For all I know, they troddle around the entire world and return in time to pass my window again in the morning. Whatever the story, I am attached to them. There are three girls and a boy, all with a fondness for bright red jackets—and when I don’t seen them, when I oversleep, I actually feel blue. Bluer. That’d be the word my mom would use, not something as dramatic as depressed. I’ve had the blues for twenty-four years.

I put on a skirt and blouse for the meeting, feeling dwarfy, my grown-up, big-girl clothes never quite fitting. I’m barely five foot—four foot, ten inches in truth, but I round up. Sue me. I’m thirty-one, but people tend to talk to me in singsong, like they want to give me fingerpaints.

I headed down my weedy front slope, the neighbor’s red dog launching into its busybody barking. On the pavement near my car are the smashed skeletons of two baby birds, their flattened beaks and wings making them look reptilian. They’ve been there for a year. I can’t resist looking at them each time I get in my car. We need a good flood, wash them away.

Two elderly women were talking on the front steps of a house across the street, and I could feel them refusing to see me. I don’t know anyone’s name. If one of those women died, I couldn’t even say, “Poor old Mrs. Zalinsky died.” I’d have to say, “That mean old bitch across the street bit it.”

Feeling like a child ghost, I climbed into my anonymous midsized car, which seems to be made mostly of plastic. I keep waiting for someone from the dealership to show up and tell me the obvious: “It’s a joke. You can’t actually drive this. We were kidding.” I trance-drove my toy car ten minutes downtown to meet Jim Jeffreys, rolling into the steakhouse parking lot twenty minutes late, knowing he’d smile all kindly and say nothing about my tardiness.

I was supposed to call him from my cell phone when I arrived so he could trot out and escort me in. The restaurant—a great, old-school KC steakhouse—is surrounded by hollowed-out buildings that concern him, as if a troop of rapists were permanently crouched in their empty husks awaiting my arrival. Jim Jeffreys is not going to be The Guy Who Let Something Bad Happen to Libby Day. Nothing bad can happen to BRAVE BABY DAY, LITTLE GIRL LOST, the pathetic, red-headed seven-year-old with big blue eyes, the only one who survived the PRAIRIE MASSACRE, the KANSAS CRAZE-KILLINGS, the FARMHOUSE SATAN SACRIFICE. My mom, two older sisters, all butchered by Ben. The only one left, I’d fingered him as the murderer. I was the cutie-pie who brought my Devil- worshiping brother to justice. I was big news. The Enquirer put my tearful photo on the front page with the headline ANGEL FACE.

I peered into the rearview mirror and could see my baby face even now. My freckles were faded, and my teeth straightened, but my nose was still pug and my eyes kitten-round. I dyed my hair now, a white-blonde, but the red roots had grown in. It looked like my scalp was bleeding, especially in the late-day sunlight. It looked gory. I lit a cigarette. I’d go for months without smoking, and then remember: I need a cigarette. I’m like that, nothing sticks.

“Let’s go, Baby Day,” I said aloud. It’s what I call myself when I’m feeling hateful.

I got out of the car and smoked my way toward the restaurant, holding the cigarette in my right hand so I didn’t have to look at the left hand, the mangled one. It was almost evening: Migrant clouds floated in packs across the sky like buffalo, and the sun was just low enough to spray everything pink. Toward the river, between the looping highway ramps, obsolete grain elevators sat vacant, dusk-black and pointless.

I walked across the parking lot all by myself, atop a constellation of crushed glass. I was not attacked. It was, after all, just past 5 p.m. Jim Jeffreys was an early-bird eater, proud of it.

He was sitting at the bar when I walked in, sipping a pop, and the first thing he did, as I knew he would, was grab his cell phone from his jacket pocket and stare at it as if it had betrayed him.

“Did you call?” he frowned.

“No, I forgot,” I lied.

He smiled then. “Well, anyway. Anyway, I’m glad you’re here, sweetheart. Ready to talk turkey?”

He slapped two bucks on the bartop, and maneuvered us over to a red leather booth sprouting yellow stuffing from its cracks. The broken slits scraped the backs of my legs as I slid in. A whoof of cigarette stink burped out of the cushions.

Jim Jeffreys never drank liquor in front of me, and never asked me if I wanted a drink, but when the waiter came I ordered a glass of red wine and watched him try not to look surprised, or disappointed, or anything but Jim Jeffreys–like. What kind of red? the waiter asked, and I had no idea, really—I never could remember the names of reds or whites, or which part of the name you were supposed to say out loud, so I just said, House. He ordered a steak, I ordered a double-stuffed baked potato, and then the waiter left and Jim Jeffreys let out a long dentist-y sigh and said, “Well, Libby, we are entering a very new and different stage here together.”

“So how much is left?” I asked, thinking saytenthousandsayten thousand.

“Do you read those reports I send you?”

“I sometimes do,” I lied again. I liked getting mail but not reading it; the reports were probably in a pile somewhere in my house.

“Have you listened to my messages?”

“I think your cell phone is messed up. It cuts out a lot.” I’d listened just long enough to know I was in trouble. I usually tuned out after Jim Jeffreys’ first sentence, which always began: Your friend Jim Jeffreys here, Libby . . .

Jim Jeffreys steepled his fingers and stuck his bottom lip out. “There is 982 dollars and 12 cents left in the fund. As I’ve mentioned before, had you been able to replenish it with any kind of regular work, we’d have been able to keep it afloat, but . . .” he tossed out his hands and grimaced, “things didn’t work out that way.”

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Reading Group Guide

A Readers’ Guide for Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
 
For additional features, visit www.gillian-flynn.com.
 
In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel. If you have not finished reading Dark Places, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.
 
Introduction
Libby Day has been unwillingly famous since age seven—when her family was massacred, and the brother she once adored was convicted of the crimes based on her accusation. Now in her thirties, Libby finds that the donated funds in her “Baby Day” account are nearly gone, and her financial supporters have moved on to fresher crimes. After decades of avoiding responsibility and effort, Libby is in need of a job.
 
The project that presents itself seems like an easy way to start: a “guest star” appearance for a group of true-crime fanatics who will happily pay to pick her brain about the “Kinnakee Kansas Farmhouse Massacre.” The fact that their version of the story differs from hers is merely an annoyance at first.  But as doubt begins to needle at her long-held convictions, Libby takes another look at that long-ago night, and the dark place she’s run from since childhood.
 
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Did you like Libby as a character? Do you think the author intended for her to be likeable?
 
2. As the book shifted between points of view, did you find one most appealing, most enlightening, or most reliable?
 
3. Why has Libby ignored Jim Jeffreys’s advice to earn an income for so many years? Do you believe she feels she’s earned the money she’s been gifted by strangers? What is her attitude toward money?
 
4. Throughout the book, many characters seem to feel as though life is something that happens to them; others take a more proactive role in steering its course, often with disastrous consequences. Discuss the book’s theme of action versus reaction, investigation versus acceptance. Where does Libby’s behavior fit in this contrast?
 
5. Like others Libby meets during her investigation, Barb Eichel seems pleased to have been contacted, having “wondered if you’d ever get in touch.” Why did Barb wait for Libby to come to her? Did Barb do enough to remedy the harm she thinks her book has done?
 
6. As Lyle first brings Libby through the Kill Club gathering, he distinguishes between different types of members—role players and solvers, for instance. Do you consider these to be meaningful differences? How do the various groups make use of the club?
 
7. In considering the case of the missing girl Lisette Stephens, Libby thinks to herself, “There was nothing to solve . . . She just vanished for no reason anyone could think of, except she was pretty.” Do you think it’s strange that Libby considers this an uninteresting case? What does her attitude toward Lisette say about her view of her own family’s murder? Was there something to “solve” in the Days’ murder?
 
8. What do you make of Magda, the middle-class Kill Club member so fond of Ben, and so callous to her own son? What does her character tell us, if anything, about the Kill Club and its members?
 
9. One of the appealing aspects of the Day case (according to Lyle) is the role of children as instigators, victims, and unreliable witnesses. Do you see any similarities among Krissi’s accusation, Libby’s false eyewitness account, and Lyle’s role in the California fires? Were these children to blame for their mistakes? In what ways did they attempt to right the wrongs they caused?
 
10. “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?
 
11. What do you think of Diondra’s relationships? Why is she attracted to Ben? Why is Trey such a constant companion? Do you think she was romantically involved with Trey?
 
12. Patty Day frequently worries whether she is a good mother. What do you think? How does the book depict parents in general? Who do you consider the “good” and “bad” parents in the book?
 
13. Did you think Ben was guilty? Does the author intend for us to doubt him?
 
14. Why doesn’t Diane return Libby’s phone calls? What does she mean at the end of the book when she says, “I knew you could do it . . . I knew you could . . . try just a little harder”? Do you like Diane?
 
15. Why do you think Libby, at the end of the book, thinks twice before shoplifting? Is this reflective of a new attitude toward the world? How?
 
16. Do you think Ben will find Crystal? What do you imagine their reunion would be like?

17. Why do you think the author chose to set the murders on a farm? What images and themes does the heartland and farming evoke?
18. 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?
 
 

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 791 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 18, 2009

    Dark Places SHINES!!

    This is one of the better authors that I've read in quite some time. Often the assumption with dark material is that it's made out to shock and to create a sense of morbid interactions among the main characters, but this is anything but. The story swallows you and leaves you gasping for air. The characters are fully developed and allow for you to care for their outcomes. Finally, I felt for the characters!! I found myself stopping at the end of each chapter, thinking, and then continuing on to see what the next one would unravel; digging deeper and deeper into the reasons behind the violent murders that took place almost 25 years prior. It's an intense read, but very captivating. I would recommend this book and the author to my demographic (23 years old) in a heartbeat. So, stop reading this review and buy the thing already. It's that good.

    51 out of 59 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Darker than I could handle...

    Talk about dark. I understand dark places, though mine are nothing like Libby's, and I thought I could handle this because it doesn't usually bother me. It wasn't Libby's 'darkplace' that got to me. It was the overall darkness of the book. And it really is too vulgar and coarse for anyone with any kind of moral sensibility. So why did I keep reading?! For the worst reason of all - curiosity as to what really happened. I may have done myself harm because of curiosity! The who-dunnit aspect of the story is what kept me going, in spite of the language and sex and gruesome violence. Saying I 'liked' the book isn't quite right - more fascinated in that car wreck kind of way. None of the characters were likable - they were pitiable. I could understand why they were twisted and warped and lacking character. I suppose it is better - more realistic - that Flynn didn't try to redeem them, or make miraculous character-turn-arounds. Libby actually DOES turn around, as much as someone as damaged as she is probably could.

    The sad thing is to realize that there are children out in the world today who are in just as much need and trouble, who are falling through the cracks, just like the Day children in this story. Is it because of the poverty, or the ignorance? Those definitely play a role. How about a woman, a mother, stretched so far beyond her capabilities that she can't cope? Definitely. All are hard realities in this story and in real life.

    Wouldn't recommend this book to anyone for fear that I might be an accomplice in harming them. I think that the dark things that she talks about in this book isn't something that just anyone can handle. My self included.

    36 out of 85 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    CHARACTER DRIVEN PSYCHO THRILLER

    Libby Day is one of the best drawn sociopathic, near-pathetic, well-voiced characters I have read in a long while. The plot holds your attention while the Day family unravels in dysfunction. The first sentence in the book says it all. Highly recommended.

    17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book. very well written. Finished it very quickly

    I loved this book. very well written. Finished it very quickly

    16 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Gillian Flynn

    Libby Day was seven years old when her mother and two sisters were massacred in a blood-soaked home invasion dubbed by the press as "The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas." It was Libby's testimony which put her then-fifteen-year old brother, Ben, into prison for the rest of his life for the heinous murders.

    I am now officially a fan of Gillian Flynn. I like my crime fiction dark and ugly, and Dark Places delivers. This novel won't appeal to everyone but if you appreciate flawed and unlikable characters, small touches of morbid humor and disturbingly gruesome violence this novel will appeal to you.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Had higher expecations...

    Loved Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL and really was hopeful that this one would be as good, but it just isn't. Still a good read, and probably my fault for reading her books in reverse order- but if you have to choose between this and GONE GIRL- hands down, choose GONE GIRL.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Dark Places

    Tom Wolfe asserted that "you can't go home again" and it is true that you won't be able to recapture your youth, or many friendships and relationships that only exist back in your memories, but Gillian Flynn teaches us that you can go home again, but that's not always a good thing.
    This is an excellent character study of a young girl who finds how easily the bad things in your youth can still haunt you in an instant. No matter how secure in an adult, professional, confident world, when confronted when the dark things from one's past, you find yourself instantly back "home" again. Think of the many episodes of talk shows where someone confronts a school bully 15 years later and finds themselves in tears. Or the reunion reality shows where the nerds instantly feel put down and unworthy in relation to the popular crowd.
    The mystery was good enough to keep my interest, but it wasn't the star here. Camille is the star. And she finds herself slowly unable to resist the gravity of the monsters of her youth.
    Ms. Flynn teases us with cliches and then pulls them out from under us, masterfully in Camille's relationships.
    Looking forward to the next book on my shelf by this author, Dark Places.

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2012

    I finished this book in about 3 days of non stop reading. I lite

    I finished this book in about 3 days of non stop reading. I literally could not put it down. Every character was genuinely interesting and I couldnt wait to get to the next chapter to find out what had actually happened to her family. The book has you thinking that it could be this person, no its defintely this person, or could it be.... I HIGHLY recommend this and am already decided what I should read next from Gillian Flynn,

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Dark Places is not for the faint of heart- it has it's moments o

    Dark Places is not for the faint of heart- it has it's moments of gore and terror, but it's so much more than cheap thrills. The narrative structure is unique and very well done- Gillian Flynn uses a pattern of first and third person, along with past and present-day narration that flows so smoothly. Even the heaviest parts of the plot are balanced out by Flynn's wit- this doesn't play out like some "gotcha!" episode of Dateline, with a cheesy voiceover just explaining how things got worse and worse... it's actually an intelligent, engrossing, and funny (if not necessarily "fun") novel.

    Flynn gives the reader enough clues and foreshadowing so that the reveal makes sense, which is greatly appreciated- there's nothing worse than endless red herrings and out-of-left-field plot twist. This isn't to say the novel was predictable, though- I was guessing all the way through. If you're fine with the material (and you know what to expect- the jacket description doesn't lie, this book is about brutal murders...), then I can't recommend this book enough.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2012

    I finished reading "Gone Girl" in 3 days, and was so b

    I finished reading "Gone Girl" in 3 days, and was so blown away that I went right out and got "Dark Places"...and read it in 3 days as well!!! Now, I am left with a Gillian Flynn obsession!! Although I slightly preferred "Gone Girl", this was an amazing read as well. It was dark, and twisted, and wholly satisfying! I am reading "Sharp Objects" now, although I am not breezing through it as effortlessly as the other two. Gillian Flynn writes with such a clever voice, and always leave you wondering what is going to happen next!! I actually can't wait to see what SHE comes up with next!! 5 stars!!

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    I loved Gone Girl so much that I immediately bought Sharp Object

    I loved Gone Girl so much that I immediately bought Sharp Objects and Dark Places. Sharp Objects was OK, but disturbing. Dark Places, on the other hand, was so gross and discusting. The charaters were so vile and did the most revolting things. I can't get the images out of my head. Even though I had to finish it to see what happened, I wish I never read it. I hope the author writes more books like Gone Girl in the future (that one would make a great movie), but I'd almost be afraid to buy another one of her books because of the sick feeling Dark Places left me with.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2012

    Really a page turner, for sure!

    Could not put this one down! Very suspenseful, liked it even more that Sharp Objects!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2010

    Awesome Book!

    I got this book recently-and once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! The story was original and very well written. The ending was a shock for me, which hardly ever happens! The characters were well written, and the plot had a lot of great twists and turns. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a great and suspenseful story.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2012

    Excellent

    I have read both this book and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and can definitely say she has a flair for creating very unique characters. I was a little put off from the main character in Sharp Objects because of the nature of the main character's quirks, but in Dark Places I didn't have that problem. Great story, very well written, kept me engaged from start to finish, which is about all you can ask for from a good book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    This book kept me constantly wanting to read more. What a grea

    This book kept me constantly wanting to read more. What a great author. I was so disappointed when I finished it, I had to find another of her books to read. I then purchased and read Sharp Objects. Wow. Another great story. I am now starting Girl Gone and hope there is another to read when I'm finished. All by this author leaves me wanting MORE!!!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2012

    Amazing writer!

    After reading "Sharp Objects" I was hooked, after reading "Dark Places" I am a fish caught. Gillian Flynn is an amazing writer.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful Prose, Great Characters, Ridiculous Resolution

    This is a murder mystery and thriller involving the massacre of the Day family--the mother, Patty, and two of her three young daughters--a crime for which her teenage son Ben was convicted. There are two basic narrative strands. It begins present day with Libby Day, the youngest daughter of the Day family and the sole survivor of that massacre twenty-five years ago when she was seven, told in first person. That narrative involving her investigation of what happened decades ago alternates with the third person narrative of Patty and Ben on that fateful day.

    I know several people who don't like first person. All I can say is this book dearly needed it. Libby is, at least at the beginning, a very unlikeable character. At thirty-one she's never held a job and is an admitted thief, "mean" and "lazy." But the first person helps her gain sympathy, because whatever else she is, at least she's honest about herself, maybe even harsh. Along with her sharp, black humor it's her saving grace. And in the course of the book we not only get to understand the trauma inflicted on her that day her family was slaughtered, but the damage inflicted by the people surrounding her, making her behavior more understandable. She speaks of having grown up "feral" and her father, among others, are far, far worse than she proves to be. She does have good reason to feel bitter.

    Judged purely as a mystery, this doesn't work. There is a lot of the resolution that just clicks so well in a lock/key fashion--but other aspects that I found too far fetched, even ridiculous. This is also a gritty, dark, sometimes sordid tale that a couple of times made me literally nauseous. However, it's a compelling, even gorgeous prose style, well-paced and often suspenseful and I wasn't tempted for one minute to leave the story unfinished.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Yuck!

    Loved Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, but hated Dark Places. Relentlessly bleak and gratuitously gross- out, without one likeable character. I know lots of people loved it, but I found it the reading equivalent to licking the bottom of an ashtray.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Moonbeam...

    Why don't you guys use Facebook or cell phones for your weirdo messages? The grownups who use the Nook review don't need to hear about your clans and shadows.
    P.S. Learn to spell.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    Dark places

    It really dragged out in the first parts of the book. Almost gave up reading it. The ending really picked up

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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