by Gillian Flynn
4 stars - ew, just, ew
ALR Blue - OK, maybe yellow for sensitive readers. There's one scene in a slaughterhouse that might put you off your bacon for a bit.
I knew up front that I'd have to read this in one big gulp. Ms. Flynn writes some icky stuff and it doesn't pay to spread out your "enjoyment" over too many days.
This story is wicked icky and also so well written, so seductive, that I found it impossible to stop reading.
Camille Preaker is a reporter for a small Chicago newspaper who is sent to her Missouri hometown to dig up a good story on the murders of two preteen girls. Camille hasn't been home for a while. Why? Well her mom is kind of, um, controlling, her stepfather is more of a piece of furniture than an actual human, and then there's her half sister whom she's hardly ever met (who turns out to be, well, icky).
Oh, let's not forget that Camille isn't all that tightly wrapped herself. She's recently had an extended sleepover in a psych hospital for reasons that are revealed as the story slithers along.
Camille is on a budget and has to bunk with mom, stepdad, and creepy sister. She's running in to a lot of people she grew up with, digging up some rather unpleasant memories, and all the while trying to figure out just what happened to those two young girls.
Ms. Flynn brings the reader ever deeper into crazy land with a style that is wondrous to behold. Here Camille is about to interview the family of one of the murdered girls.
I was hoping Betsy Nash would disappear. Literally. She was so insubstantial, I could imagine her slowly evaporating, leaving only a sticky spot on the edge of the sofa. But she lingered, eyes darting between me and her husband before we even began speaking. Like she was winding up for the conversation. The children, too, hovered about, little blonde ghosts trapped in a limbo between indolence and stupidity. The pretty girl might do all right. But the piggy middle child, who now waddled dazedly into the room, was destined for needy sex and snack-cake binging. The boy was the type who'd end up drinking in gas-station parking lots.
Because aren't those the kind of thoughts that anybody would have? Maybe, yeah, a little, but who wants to admit it? Grotesque and artful. This is Ms. Flynn's first novel and it isn't quite as flawless as her later works, but still, hardly a misplaced word or sentence. Every turn of phrase pokes down your spine and makes you want to hide in a hole from the nastiness that exists in people.
As a final note, the library copy I received was quite swollen from water damage. Wonder if the last borrower flung it into a puddle. I liked that the book was physically misshapen and injured. Kind of went with the story.