There’s a point in Sharp Objects when one of the characters, the youngest daughter of three, asks her mother which of her children she loves the most; she’s trying to assuage her fears that she can’t possibly be loved the best, that the first or second born must be the preferred children. Gone Girl is Gillian Flynn’s “third child”, her third book, and the best known and loved, but it’s Sharp Objects that does it for me.
Who hasn’t heard of Gone Girl? It was everywhere last year and because I loved the writing, I’m ploughing through Gillian Flynn’s back catalogue. Dark Places was her second book and written in 2009 (Sharp Objects was her first in 2005 and is high up on my TBR list). Dark Places is a much more harrowing story than Gone Girl because it tries to piece together the murder of an entire family in one night, save for the smallest daughter. The book intercuts from the present day and the surviving daughter’s unwilling acceptance that she needs to find out who actually murdered her family and the actual events of that day, as told from the brother and mother’s perspective. It’s reminiscent of one of my favourite (?!) horror/murder stories, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (itself based on the true story of a murder of one American family, The Clutters).