This is an almost embarrassing admission to my bad reading habits: if I get into one author, I'll abandon anything else I'm doing and I'll read All the Books. Gone Girl was a maddening novel, and I didn't want to stop feeling infuriated at the characters--so I bought Dark Places straight away and read it in the next couple of days. I couldn't begin this entry with a quote from the book or a picture of my actual copy (although you can see it resting under the Jeeves book in the previous entry) because I already gave it to a friend to read. Apparently, not only did I read all of Flynn's novels within a couple of weeks, but I became a Flynn spokesperson overnight.
This binge reading also proved to me that it's a stupid idea to read everything from one author in one sitting. I wanted Dark Places to give me exactly the same as Gone Girl did, and when it happened, I was disappointed: what, is Flynn some one trick pony? Totally unfair toward the author.
The one trick is this: both Dark Places and Gone Girl use the same style of narration. We have multiple narrators or view points, and we also have one narrator in the present tense, and another in the past. Both of them are, in their own way, leading up to an event: a murder. In Dark Places, it's a heinous massacre that a sister is attempting to solve years later, while her brother is serving time for murdering her other siblings and mother in some Satanic ritual. The present is attempting to find out who really did it, whereas the past is hurtling inevitably toward the murder, with a countdown ticking. And we the readers simply do not know what to believe. I'm so smitten with this style of narrative and the unreliability of the narrators, but at the same time, I wish I had either read Sharp Objects first, or put some more time between these books. I probably would have appreciated Dark Places much more that way, instead of now having this feeling of didn't we just do this thing? The thing I love so much!
Still, Dark Places is not a copy of Gone Girl. Dark Places is about good people who get into a really bad mess or hang out with the wrong crowd, at a time when small towns believed that any teenager wearing black was sacrificing babies to Satan in the woods. In Gone Girl, you just kind of hate everyone, and it's so satisfying to hate them, whereas in Dark Places you are worried about how small town mentality, mass hysteria, and rumors can ruin people.
They are both about evil incarnations, but in different ways. Fear not; there's blood in both of them.