Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Crown Publishing Group, 2006
Hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9780307341549
very highly recommended

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.
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.
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.

My Thoughts:

Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects, is a psychological thriller set in a small Missouri town. In it Camille Preaker, a reporter currently living in Chicago, is sent to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to cover the murder of one girl and the disappearance of another. As Camille searches for information on the murder of both girls, which is revealed early on, she is also confronted with her own turbulent past, her problems, and very dysfunctional family.

Camille has stayed away from Wind Gap for a good reason. It is a small town full of dark secrets, including many in Camille's own family. All the woman in Sharp Objects, including Camille, are deeply flawed. Do not expect to necessarily like Camille, she is fragile and many of her actions are self destructive, but perhaps, in the end, you will feel some empathy for her. She can be tragic, disturbing, and darkly humorous.

Gillian Flynn is a very good writer. The strength of Flynn's book is not so much in the suspense, since most readers will easily guess where the story is heading, but in the revelations that Flynn slowly discloses and in the descriptions of the small town and the people. Everyone is scarred in some way. The tone is very atmospheric, as Flynn slowly reveals more information and the back-story.

If you haven't read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn yet, I don't want to say too much. I felt like many reviews gave away too much information when part of the pleasure in reading any creepy psychological thriller is slowly gaining more information and insight into the characters as well as the narrator. Even when I knew where it was going, I liked having Flynn direct me there.

Sharp Objects was an Edgar Award finalist and the winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. If you like dark, psychological thrillers you'll like Sharp Objects. Very Highly Recommended


My sweater was new, stinging red and ugly. opening

"....Preaker, read the wires sometime. I guess there was a murder last August? Little girl strangled?"
I nodded like I knew. I was lying. My mother was the only person in Wind Gap with whom I had even a limited connection, and she'd said nothing. Curious.
"Now another one's missing. Sounds like it might be a serial to me. Drive down there and get me the story. Go quick. Be there tomorrow morning." pg. 4

Wind Gap is about eleven hours south of Chicago. Curry had graciously allowed me a budget for one night's motel stay and breakfast in the morning, if I ate at a gas station. But once I got in town, I was staying at my mother's. That he decided for me. I already knew the reaction I'd get when I showed up at her door. A quick, shocked flustering, her hand to her hair, a mismatched hug that would leave me aimed slightly to one side. Talk of the messy house, which wouldn't be. A query about length of stay packaged in niceties.
"How long do we get to have you for, sweetness?" she'd say. Which meant: "When do you leave?"
It's the politeness that I find most upsetting. pg. 6

Main Street was empty. No cars, no people. A dog loped down the sidewalk, with no owner calling after it. All the lampposts were papered with yellow ribbons and grainy photocopies of a little girl. I parked and peeled off one of the notices, taped crookedly to a stop sign at a child's height. The sign was homemade, "Missing," written at the top in bold letters that may have been filled in by Magic Marker. The photo showed a dark-eyed girl with a feral grin and too much hair for her head. The kind of girl who'd be described by teachers as a "handful." I liked her.
Natalie Jane Keene
Age: 10
Missing since 5/11
Last seen at Jacob J. Garrett Park, wearing
blue-jean shorts, red striped T-shirt
Tips: 555-7377 pg. 7-8

"What do you care? They're not your kids, they're Wind Gap kids." He stood up, sat back down, rearranged some papers. "I bet I'm pretty safe to say Chicago never cared about Wind Gap kids before." His voice cracked at the end. Vickery sucked on his cigarette, twisted a chunky gold pinky ring, blinked in quick succession. I wondered suddenly if he was going to cry.
"You're right. Probably not. Look, this isn't going to be some sort of exploitive story. It's important. If it makes you feel any better, I'm from Wind Gap." There you go, Curry. I'm trying. pg. 9

"Are there any theories about Ann?" I asked.
"Some loony, some crazy man musta done it. Some guy rides through town, forgot to take his pills, voices are talking to him. Something like 'at."
"Why do you say that?"
He stopped, pulled a package of chaw from his back pocket, buried a fat pinch in his gumline and worked it until he got the first tiny cut to let the tobacco in. The lining of my mouth began tingling in sympathy.
"Why else would you pull out a dead little girl's teeth?"
"He took her teeth?"
"All but the back part of a baby molar." pg. 13


samantha.1020 said...

I really enjoyed this book when I read it as well. I liked that I went into reading the book not really knowing anything about it and agree that sometimes reviews can give too much away. Great review!

Lori L said...

Thanks, Samantha! I know I put Sharp Objects and Dark Places on my wish list based on blog reviews, but, thankfully, I waited so long to read them that I forgot what was said (or if anything was revealed) before I read them, other than they were highly recommended. I hope Gillian Flynn is working on another novel!

Thoughts of Joy said...

Glad to see you loved this one. It's another book that's been sitting on my TBR shelves for years! I love psychological thrillers, so I'm thinking I will love it, too.

Lori L said...

Oh, you will enjoy it if you like psychological thrillers!