Sometimes the books I enjoy the most are the hardest ones for me to review because my love for them is so strong that I don't always know if I can do the stories justice. That was almost the case with this book. I finished it a few days ago and instead of immediately writing about it as I usually do, I tossed it aside and moved on to the next book. But it seems somehow wrong to not write about the books I love, so I'll give this my best shot.
Camille Preaker is a reporter for a very low budget newspaper in Chicago. She's trying to get her life back in order after a stay in a psychiatric hospital. She had an emotionally tumultuous childhood that eventually led to her becoming a 'cutter'. (She's carved words into her entire body to the point that in order for her to cover them all, she must wear floor length skirts and long sleeve shirts.) One of her first major assignments at the newspaper is to travel back to her hometown in Missouri to investigate and get the story on some recent murders. Someone is strangling little girls and pulling all of their teeth out. Camille is anxious to get the scoop on the murders but she's also fully aware that returning home will force her to deal with her controlling, manipulative mother and all the painful memories of her deceased younger sister.
When Camille arrives back in Missouri she's soon hit with the realization that, in the time she's been gone, not a lot has changed in her mother's house. She's still as cruel and controlling as ever, but only now she dotes on Camille's thirteen year old half sister, Amma, in a very unhealthy manner. Camille vows to stick it out in Missouri for the sake of the story, but can she do so without reverting to her old bad habits?
I'm going to come right out and say it: I absolutely loved this book. It was suspenseful without ever really being scary. You're given clues as to who is committing the murders, but never to the point where you're certain you know who the murderer is, and the last 30-50 pages of the book are some of the most intense pages I've read in a long time.
Camille is definitely now one of my favorite literary characters. She's the most realistic fictional person I've ever read about. Simultaneously tough but incredibly vulnerable, someone who screws up, makes serious mistakes, but also doesn't expect or rely on other people to bail her out of the messes she gets herself in. She was not perfect and I love that about her.
I highly recommend you read this book, I devoured it in just a few short days. Simply put, it's just a really good psychological drama. The author, Gillian Flynn, has another book, Dark Places, which you can bet I'm getting my hands on very soon.