Book Review: Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects – by Gillian Flynn

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 26th 2006 by Shaye Areheart Books
ISBN 0307341542 (ISBN13: 9780307341549)

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.

(taken from http://gillian-flynn.com/sharp-objects/)

Okay, so after finishing Gone Girl in record time, I picked up one of Flynn’s earlier novels at the Library.  Sharp Objects is a much darker story than Gone Girl, although it is just as well woven together.  The main character, Camille, returns to her hometown as a reporter for a small Chicago newspaper in order to cover the story of two murdered girls.  However the murdered girls are more like background to Camille’s personal story – her dysfunctional family, her own psychological health and emotional journey.  We get to know Camille through her relationships with the people around her rather than her efforts at journalism or the hunt for the killer.  As a reader, I found this particularly enjoyable.  The story was not a conventional “who dun’it” although there is enough mystery there to satisfy lovers of crime fiction (myself included).

On the other hand, some may find that the story is a bit too dark; there don’t really seem to be any moments when we find Camille experiencing any sort of respite from the (melo)drama of her life.  The lack of much contrasting emotion can get a bit weary.  However, I’m saying that knowing full well that the author’s intention was to produce a very dark story which offers its characters very little redemption.  Perhaps it was just not the best story to read during the Christmas season.  🙂

In any event, Ms. Flynn does another exceptional job in creating a small town full of interesting characters and dramatic twists.  It’s a disturbing but very engaging story.

 

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