Gillian Flynn is no stranger to dark and twisted tales. She ventured into the dark thriller with her previous two novels, which won her a number of awards. Gone Girl is her best novel yet and puts her firmly in the company of great female thriller writers.
Flynn tells her tale to the backdrop of the global financial crisis. Nick and Amy Dunne are both writers who have fallen on hard times. Laid off in the recession they have had to leave behind their beloved New York and return to Nick’s family, his ailing mother, his senile father and twin sister Margo in North Carthage on the Mississippi River.
Nick opens a bar with his sister Margo and Amy is left to while away her time in their rented soulless ‘McMansion’. Flynn paints a grim picture of the economically depressed North Carthage with its empty shopping malls and out of work residents. Amy’s mood begins to reflect her grim surroundings.
On the morning of their fifth anniversary preparations are being made for dinner and presents purchased. After work Nick returns home to find their house ransacked, blood pooled on the floor and his wife Amy missing.
The police begin to investigate and inevitably start to point the finger at Nick (it’s always the husband). Nick leaves a trail of deceit telling one lie after another to cover up his misdeeds. Even his long suffering sister is beginning to doubt his innocence. As Nick is paraded by the media begging for his wife’s return, public opinion turns against him. The only way Nick can prove his innocence is to find his wife.
In contrast Amy’s parents who have made a living out of their daughter, with their Amazing Amy book series for children, are the darlings of the media. With Amy’s disappearance their crumbling Amazing Amy empire has had a resurgence. Sales had dwindled in the last few years leaving them in dire financial straights, but now everyone one want to know more about Amy and sales have sky rocketed. The media love Amazing Amy and her parents. Their only daughter is missing and they appear distraught and devastated.
The book is narrated in turn by Nick and Amy Dunne. Through Amy’s journals we learn about their life together, from their first meeting up until the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. They seem to have had a charmed life in New York. Amy is beautiful, independent and self-assured while Nick is the talented self-effacing writer. But Amy struggles with their relocation to the dire North Carthage and things begin to go awry. The two stories, Nick’s narration and Amy’s diary entries then begin to merge revealing the real horror.
As the book progresses the two protagonists become less likeable. Which unreliable narrator should the reader believe? Nick or Amy? The tightly woven plot brings the toxic, twisted marriage to the fore as Flynn explores the dark psyche of two talented writers whose lives begin to crumble under pressure. It is hard to imagine a plausible ending, but Flynn manages it with finesse.
The intelligent writing and constant suspense makes this a compulsive read. It has been touted as thriller of the year and certainly deserves its accolades.
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