The Trees
by Ali Shaw
The Trees by Ali Shaw

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
by Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman

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Dark Places
Posted by Tam

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

After the murders, the community started a collection fund for her, which she’s been living off for years.With Libby already in her thirties, the fund has finally dwindled down to almost nothing. With no skills, or any desire to work, Libby has to find a way to make some cash, and fast. Not an easy task especially as she is lazy, mean-spirited, quick-tempered, self-indulgent and very selfish. She is contacted by a local club of amateur crime-solvers, badly named The Kill Club who ask her to be a speaker at one of their events. The promise of cold, hard cash makes her accept, despite being wary of it all. The members of The Kill Club, consisting mostly of obsessed women, believe that her brother is innocent and urge her to recant her statement. Slowly Libby begins to question her own story, going over testimonies of other witnesses and court documents which take her back to 1985 so she can relive the events leading up to that night.

The book deals with severe poverty, broken families and the devil-worshipping scares from the 80s. Although there aren’t any truly likeable characters, they all seem realistic, albeit disturbed and stunted on many levels. In the book it is made clear that if women are equal to men then they are capable of despicable things, as men are. The story tells us that monsters are real, they’re human. It is clear too that everyone has darkness inside of them, whether you allow it to surface remains to be seen.

Gillian Flynn is incredibly adept at creating totally messed-up, disturbing characters. Her writing allows us to follow the crime on multiple levels while we try to solve the mystery ourselves along the way. The reader is given all the information necessary to solve the crime, dropping it in subtly so that when the killer is revealed, you see it – but don’t see it coming! This is a well-crafted crime novel, if you plan on reading it, it’s recommended that you surround yourself with happy people for the duration. It can be a bit of a downer!

This review has been featured on Women24.

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