As the story moves forward, the character perspectives move between Patty Day (Libby's mother) and Ben Day (Libby's brother) on the day of the murder back in 1985. Flynn really shines here as she masterfully designs a story that doesn't reveal it's central truth behind the mystery of who committed the murders until the reader has traveled with Patty and Ben through the day and their dark truths. The back story keeps the reader guessing at every turn as to who was responsible for the ghastly murders and who else may have been involved.
The back story parallels Libby's present day search for the truth as she is pulled back into the mystery by a secondary character that introduces her to an underground club consisting of people who thrive off murders and seek to solve them. Libby's initial motivation to attend the Kill Club meetings is purely financial as she will be paid to appear and talk about the murders. Having just discovered that her money, all of which was given to her by the public in donations over the years, is running out, Libby resorts to her survival tactic of 'pity me, I'm Libby Day.' However, the Kill Club experience challenges Libby and shatters the protective bubble she's built in which she is the victim and her brother Ben is the devil-worshipping teenage murderer.
Libby's search for the truth allows her character to grow past the child-like state she has been lingering in for nearly 25 years. It was an interesting journey to make with Libby, and while some aspects of her personality improved there were still character quirks that kept her believable until the end. Her mother's sections were heart wrenching. Patty's backstory pulled on every empathetic chord I possess and her movement through that horrible day in 1985 was full of anguish. Ben Day was the most perplexing character to read about, and I wavered back and forth over whether or not he committed the murders the entire story. As his character moves further into that day in 1985 he becomes increasingly darker, and yet his troubled relationships with his sisters, mother, father, Diondra, Krissi, and Trey all eat at him in such a way that I felt sorry for him.
Flynn is able to keep the tension of the story alive for over 500 pages, and I ate it up until the satisfying conclusion. I'm a fan of Flynn, and even though I found Gone Girl a little unbalanced and the characters just too terrible to like, Dark Places showed me that she is writer who knows how to develop and unfold a good mystery.
“I was not a lovable child, and I'd grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it'd be a scribble with fangs.” ― Libby Day