Sharp Objects

March 31, 2013 - Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn). The author of Gone Girl burst onto the literary scene in 2006 with this disturbing story featuring several disturbed characters.

The heroine here is a 30-something journalist named Camille Preaker. She works at a second- (or possibly third-)rate newspaper in Chicago. In an effort to boost circulation, her editor, Frank Curry, sends Camille to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, where two young girls have been strangled. The first murder happened about nine months before the second.

While Camille is in Wind Gap, she stays at the family homestead with her mother, Adora, stepfather Alan, and half-sister Amma. We learn there was another half-sister, Marian. She died about 20 years ago at the age of 10, a sad end to a life filled with sickness. In many ways, Marian still overshadows the family, and Camille worries about the effect on Amma.

We also learn that Camille recently spent time in a facility of some sort because she is a "cutter." Starting around the time of Marian's death and continuing for years, Camille cut words into almost every part of her body. She now wears long skirts and long sleeves to hide her scars. But, those scars and other long-standing secrets are revealed as Camille begins to fear that the search for the killer may lead right to her own doorstep.

I've left out a lot of details in the story summary so as not to spoil things too much. Flynn reveals information slowly, allowing the reader to become increasingly horrified by the actions, past and present, of the characters. Wind Gap is not a nice place and there are not nice people in it. Even Camille only gets to be called the heroine because at least there's some hope for her character.

I enjoyed Flynn's writing style and look forward to reading her other books. She writes very descriptively, i.e. "My mother petted my hair with gauzy hands." The one thing I found odd, though, was the repeated use of the word "lasciviously." It's a great word, and I don't see it used that often, so I was pleased when it cropped up the first time. It seemed appropriate. But, then, it appeared three more times, and the book's not all that long to start with. Still, that's a minor criticism about what is, overall, a well-written and intriguing book.