I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
Libby Day survived the January 3, 1985 massacre that left her mother and two older sisters (age-ten Michelle and age-nine Debbie) dead, when Libby was seven years old. Her brother Ben, age fifteen at the time, was convicted of the,murders, largely based on Libby's testimony. Twenty-four years later, Libby is an unhappy adult who has just learned that the trust fund bestowed upon her at age 18--funded by sympathetic members of the public--is almost completely depleted. At a loss for ideas on how to support herself in the post-trust-fund era of her life, she accepts an invitation to appear as a guest at a "Kill Club" convention. The club consists of people who are obsessed with various high-profile crimes. Those who are aficionados of the "Kinnakee Kansas Farmhouse Massacre" universally share the opinion that Ben did not commit the crimes, though they have various theories as to who did. They are also quite convinced that Libby had been carefully coached on her testimony against Ben, and Libby herself cannot quite explain how she could have seen the acts she'd testified to, when she'd owed her survival to having escaped the house and hidden outdoors.
Libby soon learns that members of the club would be willing to pay her to conduct an investigation of her own, speaking to various people connected to her family and the crime, such as her father Runner Day, her Aunt Diane, her brother Ben (serving a lfie sentence), and others. She reluctantly accepts and before long realizes that she craves answers about what really happened that night.
The narrative alternates between Libby's first-person perspective set in the "now" and the January 2-3, 1985 third-person narrations of her mother Patty and brother Ben (with a couple of other "now" perspectives near the end). As the story unravels, the prospect of unfurling what actually happened that night seems ever more elusive. Until it's not. Boom!
After having read Gone Girl, I knew I needed to read more Gillian Flynn, so I immediately downloaded the three-book bundle of Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects from my library's e-collection (along with the audiobooks of the latter two). Libby Day is very up front about being a not-nice person: she's a grifter with sticky fingers, someone who resents the little girl who also lost her family to a gruesome crime at around the same time Libby lost hers, with the added heart-tugger of having been left with burn scars disfiguring her face. Libby is certain that she would have received much more donation money from well-wishers if not for that. But in spite of her non-cuddly qualities, I found myself developing a weird affection for this prickly heroine who owns her prickliness. Flynn does a marvelous job teasing out themes about how high-profile crimes are reported and the ways in which they become a dark part of the public imagination. I can easily say that I recommend this book and will continue to seek out anything that Gillian Flynn writes (I've already jumped right into Sharp Objects).