I love dark mysteries with an edge. Two of my discoveries from last year for this type of novel are Gillian Flynn and Belinda Bauer. My book journal for Gillian Flynn’s first book, Sharp Objects, starts out with “What a terrific book!”
Camille Preaker works for a Chicago newspaper, which sends her to her home town of Wind Gap, MO, because a young girl was murdered and another one has disappeared. Camille reluctantly returns to the home town she has avoided for eight years. Institutionalized for self-mutilation as a young girl, she has learned to resist cutting words into her body and now writes them on with a pen. But as she begins investigating her family problems and her disturbed childhood as well as the murder, she awakens her own demons.
Camille’s mother has never paid much attention to her, although she plays the doting mother outside of the home. Camille’s sister Marianne, who was loved by both Camille and her mother, died when she was young. Now Camille has a much younger stepsister, Amma, a 13-year-old who behaves like an angel at home but is a terrible bully outside the home, hanging out with a bunch of mean girls.
As Camille interviews her old friends and acquaintances, her leads all seem to be turning into dead ends, but the reader’s sense of horror grows. Discovering more of the truth about the murder and her own family, she begins spinning out of control and has difficulty resisting the urge to cut herself again.
Flynn’s writing is fast-paced and efficiently builds suspense. This book is a real page-turner.