Dark Places

Dark Places

4.1 942
by Gillian Flynn

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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



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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Libby Day


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.”


Meet the Author

GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl and the New York Times bestsellers Dark Places and Sharp Objects. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, her work has been published in 42 countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

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Dark Places 4.1 out of 5 based on 20 ratings. 942 reviews.
BRICK-0_8 More than 1 year ago
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.
WOlsen More than 1 year ago
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.
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. very well written. Finished it very quickly
BANCHEE_READS More than 1 year ago
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.
MaGicAllyGeNuisJ More than 1 year ago
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.
ssmith11 More than 1 year ago
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.
Sabrina17RB More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
boredONdeployment More than 1 year ago
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,
TheJokerJB More than 1 year ago
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.
BadKittyW More than 1 year ago
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!!
JCho More than 1 year ago
disturbing and entertaining
Lisa_RR_H More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you buy a book based off reviews like I do, then just get this book. Its dark, twisted, and worth every cent. Its well written and keeps you turning the pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd been searching for a GOOD book that I could not put down for quite some time. This book delivers from page 1!
beasbusy More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put this one down! Very suspenseful, liked it even more that Sharp Objects!
KimmyBax More than 1 year ago
After reading "Sharp Objects" I was hooked, after reading "Dark Places" I am a fish caught. Gillian Flynn is an amazing writer.
PinkysMama More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unnecessary use of bad language, just for the hell of it. Dark, graphic. I wasnt a fan. I decided to read this book because Gone Girl was fairly entertaining, if not predictable, but I won't be reading more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been on a Flynn binge and read all her books this summer, followed by the movies. I cannot wait for Sharp Objects to get on tv.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave this rating because she is a good writer and the
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark, but kept me constantly wanting more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me guessing and the ending took me completely by surprise. It did take a little bit to get used to the chapters switching between the past and present, but it was necessary for the story to come together.