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Gone Girl and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I read these one after the other, so I’m rating/reviewing them together.

Delicious scale: 5

5 – Delicious! (complimentary burp)
4 – Savory and satisfying
3 – Meh. Edible, but pass the salt
2 – Okay, it filled the void.
1 – Yuck! Pass the Tums.

Yes, they both get a Delicious rating of 5. Many (most) reviewers give the books a page-turner thumbs up. Gone Girl, in particular, snagged me from the start and took me for a ride. Both books feature characters and situations that haunt you. Flynn seems a master at capturing people’s private lives and the often dual aspact of human personality–the one that we put out there for others and the hidden/private (darker and more sinister) one that is ever-ready to jump into the forefront when situations call for it.

In Gone Girl, we find Nick in chapter one suddenly dealing with his wife Ann’s disappearance. From the start, the story line is engrossing. The plotting is superbly paced and satisfyingly crafted, alternating chapters between Nick’s perspective and Ann’s. With each new chapter, a new layer of understanding is revealed leaving the reader sometimes shocked, sometimes amused, and always thoroughly enrapt. Things aren’t always (are never?) what they seem. The surprises keep coming as the plot unfolds to an unbelievably inventive ending.

Flynn understands the biting, ugly, darker side of marriage that lies in waiting after couples have said their vows and the honeymoon phase is in the rearview mirror.

Sharp Objects, similarly, is well-paced and engrossing. We follow Camille who is a reporter in Chicago as she begins gathering fodder for a story on the recent child murders in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. Camille’s childhood was marked by the loss of her own sister years previous. As the story unfolds, we meet a cast of flawed characters, none moreso than Camille herself. She’s a cutter. She began carving words like “queasy” on her stomach and “vanish” on her neck when she was 13 to cope with the lack of affection and downright antagonism of her mother.

Stephen King referred to Sharp Objects as an “admirably nasty piece of work.” Gillian Flynn doesn’t flynch when describing details of sordid sexual activity, ugly vomiting hangovers, nor the gruesome discoveries at the crime scenes. She takes us deftly into the enigmatic workings of the psychotic mind.

In truth, you wonder sometimes who to root for because everyone’s so thoroughly f*ed up.

When both stories come to a close, you’re glad you came to dinner. You know you’ve sat at the table of a master chef. No Hamburger Helper here. You’re left full and satisfied. And even if the burp calls back up some unwelcome flavors, you call it delicious nonetheless.

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