Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sharp Objects--Gillian Flynn

I really like this Midwestern gothic vein that Gillian Flynn is tapping. Sharp Objects was her debut novel, and like Dark Places, it's intimately concerned with the mores of small Midwestern towns. There's a glowing blurb by Stephen King on the back of the library's copy, and he's right--you dread the last 30 pages or so.

Camille Preaker is sent to her hometown of Wind Gap, MO to write about the recent murders of two little girls. Camille is semi-estranged from her family, has been from birth, and really doesn't want to be doing this. But she's a lousy reporter, just out of the mental hospital, and her editor thinks it's a great idea. So back in her hometown, Camille's investigation stirs up a lot of her own issues and memories, especially of her dead sister. She also encounters new creepy weirdness, such as her half-sister Amma, who is caught between being a mean girl outside the home and their mother's baby within.

It's an excruciating read. I could guess a lot of what Flynn is spinning out before Camille's revelations and discoveries, but so much of the book is dark and emotionally raw that I was pulled in and kept reading. It's a great example of how doing something with great style makes up for a story not being wholly surprising. I'm looking forward to more by Flynn.

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