Dark Places

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

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.

Praise for Gillian Flynn and Dark Places

  • A Weekend TODAY “Top Summer Read”
  • One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2009
  • One of The New Yorker’s Reviewers’ Favorites from 2009
  • One of The Chicago Tribune’s Our Favorite Fiction of 2009: “A deliciously gory thriller with a bang of a climax.”

“Gillian Flynn is the real deal, a sharp, acerbic, and compelling storyteller with a knack for the macabre.”

Stephen King

Dark Places grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go.”

Karin Slaughter

“Gillian Flynn’s writing is compulsively good. I would rather read her than just about any other crime writer.”

Kate Atkinson

“Another winner!”

Harlan Coben

“With her blistering debut Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn hit the ground running. Dark Places demonstrates that was no fluke.”

Val McDermid

“Edgar-finalist Flynn’s second crime thriller tops her impressive debut, Sharp Objects…When the truth emerges, it’s so twisted that even the most astute readers won’t have predicted it.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Once in a while a book comes along that puts a new spin on an old idea. More than 40 years ago, Truman Capote took readers inside the Clutter farmhouse in Holcomb, KS, to show them what it was like to walk in a killer’s shoes. Flynn takes modern readers back to Kansas to explore the fictional 1985 Day family massacre from the perspective of a survivor as well as the suspects…tight plotting and engaging characters.”

Library Journal

“A gritty, riveting thriller with a one-of-a-kind, tart-tongued heroine.”

Booklist, starred review

“Gillian Flynn coolly demolished the notion that little girls are made of sugar and spice in Sharp Objects, her sensuous and chilling first thriller. In Dark 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

“Love her or loathe her, Libby Day won’t be forgotten without a fight…[a] nerve-fraying thriller.”

New York Times Book Review

“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)

“Gripping thriller.”


“The sole survivor of a family massacre is pushed into revisiting a past she’d much rather leave alone, in Flynn’s scorching follow-up to Sharp Objects . . . Flynn intercuts Libby’s venomous detective work with flashbacks to the fatal day 24 years ago so expertly that as they both hurtle toward unspeakable revelations, you won’t know which one you’re more impatient to finish…every sentence crackles with enough baleful energy to fuel a whole town through the coldest Kansas winter.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A genuinely shocking denouement”

Romantic Times

“The world of this novel is all underside, all hard flinch, and Flynn’s razor-sharp prose intensifies this effect as she knuckles in on every sentence. . . . The slick plotting in Dark Places will gratify the lover of a good thriller—but so, too, will Flynn’s prose, which is ferocious and unrelenting and pure pleasure from word one.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Gillian Flynn’s second novel, Dark Places, proves that her first—Sharp Objects—was no fluke…tough, surprising crime fiction that dips its toes in the deeper waters of literary fiction.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“Clever, engrossing and disturbing….[DARK PLACES] should cement [Flynn’s] place in the great authors of crime fiction.”


“Disturbing and original . . . It’s Flynn’s gift that she can make a caustic, self-loathing, unpleasant protagonist someone you come to root for.”

New York Magazine

“Flynn fully inhabits Libby—a damaged woman whose world has resided entirely in her own head for the majority of her life . . . Half the fun of Dark Places is Libby’s swampy psychology, which Flynn leads us through without the benefit of hip waders.”

Time Out Chicago

“Flynn’s second novel is a wonderful evocation of drab small-town life. The time-split narrative works superbly and the atmosphere is eerily macabre—Dark Places is even better than the author’s award-winning Sharp Objects.”

The Guardian (UK)

Dark Places‘ Libby Day may seem unpleasant company at first—she’s humoring those with morbid curiosities about her family’s murders in order to get money out of them—but her steely nature and sharp tongue are compelling. ‘I have a meanness inside me,’ she says, ‘real as an organ.’ Yes she does, and by the end of this pitch-black novel, after we’ve loosened our grip on its cover and started breathing deeply again, we’re glad Flynn decided to share it.”

Jessa Crispin, NPR.org

“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

“A riveting tale of true horror by a writer who has all the gifts to pull it off.”

Chicago Tribune

“Flynn returns to the front ranks of emerging thriller writers with her aptly titled new novel . . . Those who prefer their literary bones with a little bloody meat will be riveted.”

Portland Oregonian

“Set in the bleak Midwest of America, this evocation of small-town life and dysfunctional people is every bit as horribly fascinating as Capote’s journalistic retelling of a real family massacre, In Cold Blood, which it eerily resembles. This is only Flynn’s second crime novel—her debut was the award-winning Sharp Objects—and demonstrates even more forcibly her precocious writing ability and talent for the macabre”

Daily Mail (UK)

“These characters are fully realized—so true they could step off the page….hints of what truly happened to the Day family feel painfully, teasingly paced as they forge an irresistible trail to the truth….Could. Not. Stop. Reading.”


“Sardonic, riveting . . . Like Kate Atkinson, Flynn has figured out how to fuse the believable characters, silken prose and complex moral vision of literary fiction to the structure of a crime story…You can sense trouble coming like a storm moving over the prairie, but can’t quite detect its shape.”

Laura Miller, Salon.com

“Libby’s voice is a pitch-perfect blend of surliness and emotionally charged imagery…The Kansas in these pages is a bleak, deterministic place where bad blood and lies generate horrifically unintended consequences. Though there’s little redemption here, Flynn manages to unearth the humanity buried beneath the squalor.”


“No amount of air-conditioning could equal the chills Gillian Flynn conjures in her second novel…Dark Places crackles with peevish energy and corrosive wit, just the thing to bring out the goose bumps on a balmy summer’s night..”

Dallas Morning News

“Gillian Flynn may turn out to be a more gothic John Irving for the 21st century, a writer who uses both a surgeon’s scalpel and a set of rusty harrow discs to rip the pretty face off middle America.”

San Jose Mercury News

“[D]eliciously creepy…Flynn follows 250-some pages of masterful plotting and character development with a speedway pileup of pulse-pounding revelations.”

Chicago Reader

“It’s like getting James Agee’s A Death in the Family, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks all rolled into one. In fact, it’s hard to think of another female writer, with the possible exception of Flannery O’Connor or Joyce Carol Oates, who can write so unflinchingly about violence…meanwhile, there’s the page-turning business of who really did kill the Days?”

Berkshire Living

“An authentic portrayal of the itchy angst and burning blunder of adolescence and, in its devotion to a world populated by mostly failed people who somehow managed to do one thing right—or one right thing—it remains committed to a complexly human, yet hopeful, vision. Readers will surely hope for more work from Flynn.”