Gillian Flynn has quickly become a part of our current zeitgeist, much thanks to her highly celebrated novel “Gone Girl”, a portrayal of a modern day marriage gone toxic. Having made the New York Times bestseller list and read by millions around the globe, Flynn has proved herself to be a compelling writer, a singular voice with flair in the dark and macabre.
“Sharp Objects” (2006), Flynn’s debut novel, is no different. A mere 272 pages, “Sharp Objects” is a lean, sinister and compulsively entertaining novel about family origins and secrets, repressed grief and self-destruction. At the center, we meet second rate journalist Camille Preaker, assigned to report on the grisly murder of a teenage girl back in her hometown. Having removed herself from her childhood home, she reluctantly takes on the assignment and is forced to reconnect with her estranged mother Adora and half sister Amma.
On arrival, Camille’s initial response is to quickly report on the occurrence and remove herself from her family. However she finds herself drawn to the peculiarities surrounding the murder, the nature of the town’s reaction and to the disturbing secrets she discovers about her family’s history. As Camille finds herself sucked into the nefarious setting, her own demons begin to resurface as past traumas come to light.
The strengths of the novel come in its deliberate pace and the writer’s close attention to detail. Despite its brevity, Flynn carefully fleshes out each character, skillfully developing their personalities and histories. In a short period, we quickly understand Camille’s apprehension in returning to her roots. Subtle cues in the writing and detail foreshadow for events to occur. The conclusion may or may not surprise you, but the effect is no less than lasting.
Petar Vidjen is a member of the Thunder Bay Public Library staff.