Author: Gillian Flynn
Type: Fiction, novel
I read it: October 2018
I had seen the image released by the recent TV version of this book, with Amy Adams’ exhausted face front and center. I pictured the main character as Adams the entire time, which helped immensely in connecting with the character. The protagonist is brave and flawed, the victim of a twisted upbringing under the care of her domineering mother, and Adams’ rawness and vulnerability seemed perfectly suited to the part (I haven’t actually seen the show though).
This dark thriller toys with your squeamishness due to its central murders (the repelling draw of kids as victims) but Flynn tactfully weaves a reason for her reporter to return to her hometown and get inextricably tied into he mystery. The plot threads are logical even if the overall solution may be somewhat obvious—though I never felt the need for a full rug to be pulled out from under me, with the drama itself intriguing enough. If anything, seeing the broad brush strokes early on enhances the unfolding dread, and even so, there’s a final small twist that I hadn’t fully formulated myself. Although, I did feel that this extra consideration deserved another 40 or so pages to support the next layer of drama that it introduced. The swiftly tied up final chapters seem unnecessarily rushed, even if it’s a relief to let the characters have their rest.
Perhaps the highest mark of success for the novel is the setting: I know nothing about small-town Missouri, but Flynn’s version of it is viscerally realized through the places and the distrustful people who inhabit them, lending credence to why it’s so hard for the woman to return home and face her own painful past as well as the nasty trail of blood in the present. No wonder she needs liquor for the “layer of protection from all the sharp thoughts in your head.” There are many other sharp things in the book, but the lived-in setting remains the sharpest drawn of all.