In my humble opinion, Gillian Flynn is an absolute master of her craft. Gone Girl was the best thriller I read in 2014 and I was very excited to read her other novels (and short story). I started with Dark Places, a book about a woman trying to find out if her brother really did massacre the rest of her family 24 years before.
While Dark Places didn’t have the almighty twist of Gone Girl it still had me gripped. It wasn’t a redemption story, or a revenge story. It was a story if finding peace in a situation that wouldn’t allow it. None of the characters pretend to be likeable, the setting is grim (although my only other experience of Kansas is watching Jericho on Netflix so I may be getting a biased view) and Gillian Flynn’s description of both shows that she doesn’t want to pander to us. She has a story to tell, and her talent lies in being able to craft that story brilliantly without needing to sugarcoat it to make it palatable. You learn to love them, that love isn’t forced on you. One if the things I loved about Gone Girl too was the fact that the characters were deeply flawed, because people are.
I think one of the characteristics of Gillian Flynn’s novels is that every moment is calculated. There’s no detail that is superfluous to the story. No loose thread that’s left hanging. Even to the point where things I had barely registered at the beginning become vitally important later on. It’s incredibly clever, but also dark and dramatic and somehow hopeful. If I gave stars it’d get the maximum possible.