Published 2006 by Broadway Paperbacks.
Literary Awards: Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2007), The Crime Writers’ Association New Blood Dagger (2007), Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2007), CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger (2007).
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, 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 in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming. (Goodreads)
I think I spoke too soon when I said Gillian Flynn never let me down. This is truly a first with her. To be fair this is her debut and for a debut, it isn’t half bad but I know she can do better. For starters, the synopsis is misleading. Never anywhere other than the back of the book is there mention of Camille staying at a psych hospital. She does in fact head to her tiny hometown of Wind Gap to cover the murders of 2 young girls. But again it’s not that Camille finds herself identifying with the victims until the story is wrapping up. Camille is definitely dealing with some personal demons and they are intensified by staying in her childhood home and dealing with her bizarre mother. Let me tell you what really happens.
Camille is sent to her hometown Wind Gap to get the scoop about the 2 murders because the Chicago newspaper she works at is suffering. She doesn’t seem to want to return but does for the sake of the story. Immediately you get the sense that the past is something that she doesn’t want to confront. Camille’s mother and half sister are weird and you don’t quite get to figure them out until everything is laid out for you. Camille goes around town bumping into familiar faces trying to get leads and comments for the piece she is writing. Along the way she gets romantically involved with a detective working the case and another gentleman. Camille has issues though and it’s not until well into the story that the action picks up and we realize that Camille has cut words into herself. All of herself, minus a smooth section in the middle of her back that she could not reach. For that reason she has a hard time be romantic with guys. She also drinks quite heavily. A few weird things happen and you always get the sense that something strange is going on but you can’t quite put your finger on it until Camille herself does. All in all the balance of being bored and it being a complete page turner is what lead to my rating of three stars. I did enjoy the overall story but it definitely wasn’t Flynn’s most brilliant book.
Definitely much slower paced than other stories I have read by Gillian Flynn but still well crafted. Even when the story isn’t interesting Flynn’s writing is. Don’t expect to be blown away and you might enjoy this one.