Sometimes one of our reviews bears repeating. This one was from late Feb. You’ve no doubt heard much about this book in the last couple of weeks. It deserves all the praise it has been getting.
Brilliant, audacious and astonishing are just a few of the words I could ascribe to Gillian Flynn’s third book, Gone Girl (June, Crown hc, $25- signed copies while they last).
While I admit to not being objective about her books – her first two were also brilliant, audacious and astonishing – this one deserves those words in bold, italicized caps. The trick is that I cannot tell you much about it. Fran’s right – it is pretty much a ‘trust me’ book.
Nick and Amy had both lost their jobs in NYC and moved back to Nick’s hometown in Northwest Missouri to help care for his dying mother. They’ve been there a couple of years at the start of the story and their relationship has withered. On the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy vanishes. There are signs of a struggle in the house. As the cops investigate, they’re frustrated by Nick’s inability to explain much and how his answers don’t add up. These chapters are told by Nick.
They alternate with chapters from Amy’s diary, which tell you the history of the relationship, how happy they were at first but how things began to slide once they reached Missouri.
It becomes clear early that Nick isn’t telling all he knows to you, the reader, or to the cops. You want to pull for Nick but you begin to have your doubts. He’s just such a schlub: “Desi seemed the definition of a gentleman: a guy who could quote a great poet, order a rare scotch, and buy a woman the right piece of vintage jewelry. He seemed, in fact, a man who knew inherently what women wanted – across from him, I felt my suit wilt, my mannner go clumsy. I had a swelling urge to discuss football and fart.”
At the same time, you want to side with Amy but it starts to feel as if she was no peach, either. In one part, she watches from the motel pool: “I can see a blond head bobbing across the parking lot, and then the girl with the split lip comes through the chain-link gate with one of the bath towels from the cabins, no bigger than a tea towel, and a pack of Merits and a book and SPR 120. Lung cancer but not skin. She settles herself and applies the lotion carefully, which is different from the other beat-up women who come here – they slather themselves in baby oil, leave greasy shadows on the lawn chairs.”
And that is all I can tell you. There are turns you might see coming, but I sure as hell didn’t. Here are where other adjectives are needed: stunning, mind-blowing and funny come into play.
“I got nothing more than a fussy nap toward dawn, woke up an hour later with a hangover. Not a disabling hangover, but decent. I was tender and dull. Fuggy. Maybe a little drunk. I stutter-walked to Go’s Subaru, the movement feeling alien, like my legs were on backward.”
If you haven’t read Gillian, please do. These are engrossing books peopled with full-blooded characters who are both believable and familiar. Her three books are not connected, so you can start anywhere. Her first was Sharp Objects (Three Rivers, $14), the second was Dark Places (Three Rivers, $14). It is always hard to peg an author easily to give someone an idea of what their writing is like: off the top of my head, I’d say Gillian is a mix of Woodrell, Pelecanos and Lehane – edgy, honest and with the raucus dark humor of the cynic.
“He had beefed up over the years, as had his brother: they weren’t just barrel-chested but barrel-everythinged. Standing side by side, they were about five hundred pounds of dude.”
Book of the year, hands down.
Brilliant, audacious and astonishing.
We've been promoting Gillian and her books for years. Nice to have the rest of the world catch up! ~ JB ~ Seattle Mystery Bookshop