If a good mystery is measured by how long it stays with you (and whether or not it gives you a bad dream) then Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is a “good” fit.
(See link for detailed plot summary.)
If you enjoy mysteries, horror stories, thrillers, “cop” stories, small town southern settings, family drama and fascinating and intense protagonists, you will love Sharp Objects. You’ll also find an element of humour — perhaps a tad dark, but humour nonetheless. The fact that it is so well written (snappy, believable dialogue, a quick pace, keen perceptions and the ability to keep the reader engaged) nudges this book into the “extremely good read” category.
And, yes, it scared the crap out of me. Hence, the bad dream. It didn’t help matters that I finished the book just before bedtime. Without giving anything away, there are two elements to this story — a dollhouse and the matter of teeth — that prompted my nightmare. I’ve always been fascinated by dollhouses (never owned one and the bungalow Santa brought me one year does not count) and I’ve had recurring bad dreams about losing teeth. Lots of people do. Well, when you combine those two elements and add my personal fixations to the equation, you have the ingredients for one kick-ass bad dream. I woke up two members of the family.
(Enough about me. This is a review a book, not of my traumatic night.)
Camille Preaker, a newspaper reporter from Chicago, returns to her hometown to cover the story of the brutal murders of two young girls. It’s a going back in time that not only brings forth bad memories from her past, it also prompts new horrors. Camille, not particularly mentally stable as a result of this troubled past, hooks up with the detective working the case (the requisite, likable hunk of a cop). Each investigates the case in their own unique way. Camille’s way is particularly unique. She has a far more personal stake in the outcome of this investigation. And you are with her every step of the way — to the end…and a little bit more…
Gillian Flynn manages to sustain your interest, keeps you guessing and provides a tense, chilling ending. Reader beware. It is definitely not a book for the squeamish or faint-of-heart.
As for the title? I’m giving nothing away on that score. If you read the book, you’ll find out soon enough what that’s all about.