DARK PLACES

Gillian Flynn

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history.

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Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . And maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

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  • Broadway
  • Paperback
  • May 2010
  • 368 Pages
  • 9780307341570

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About Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and the winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, and a rather giant cat named Roy.

Praise

“[A] nerve-fraying thriller.”The New York Times

“Flynn’s well-paced story deftly shows the fallibility of memory and the lies a child tells herself to get through a trauma.”The New Yorker

“Gillian Flynn coolly demolished the notion that little girls are made of sugar and spice in Sharp Objects, her sensuous and chilling first thriller. InDark Places, her equally sensuous and chilling follow-up, Flynn…has conjured up a whole new crew of feral and troubled young females….[A] propulsive and twisty mystery.”Entertainment Weekly

“Flynn follows her deliciously creepy Sharp Objects with another dark tale . . . The story, alternating between the 1985 murders and the present, has a tense momentum that works beautifully. And when the truth emerges, it’s so macabre not even twisted little Libby Day could see it coming.”People (4 stars)

Discussion Questions

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ…Draw a picture of my soul and it’d be a scribble with fangs.” What does Libby’s opening narration tell you about how she views herself? Do you agree with her description?

The Kill Club is a macabre group obsessed with true crimes. Why do you think we are so interested in the murders of people we don’t know? Is the fascination exploitive, or does it serve some purpose?

Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame effected her? Would she have been better adjusted had she never become famous?

What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself? What emotions ultimately fuel her choices? Can you see yourself making the choices she makes?

Libby, Patty and Ben Day all entertain thoughts of suicide. What does this say about the family? How does this depression effect their lives?

Ben is painted as a wild devil worshiper. How fair do you think this portrait actually is? For those who grew up in the 1980s: Do you recall any instances of “Satanic Panic”? Why do you think this became such a widespread fear?

Why do you think the author chose to set the murders on a farm? What images and themes does the heartland and farming evoke?

“No one ever forgives me for anything,” one character says. What role does forgiveness play in Dark Places? Which characters should be more forgiving? Less?

Throughout Dark Places, Libby, Patty and Ben unknowingly echo one other’s dialogue and thoughts. What is the author trying to say with this technique?

Libby is a liar, a manipulator, a kleptomaniac, and an opportunist. Does she have any redeeming qualities? Are you able to empathize with her? If so, why?