Originally published: September 2007
Author: Gillian Flynn
Published by: Phoenix
Genre: Crime Thriller
Length: 321 pages
Reading dates: 21-24 September 2020
For September’s book club we voted for books that have been turned into TV shows or movies. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn was the one we voted for. I’d actually read it before way back in 2009 – luckily I had no memory of the plot so it was like reading it for the first time!
Camille Preaker is a reporter for the Chicago Daily Post. As the book starts, she is sent by her editor back to her home town of Wind Gap to report on the murder of one young girl and the disappearance of another. Wind Gap is a typical small town in America. Camille hasn’t been home for some time, having had a troubled relationship with her mother.
Before long, Camille is back living in the family mansion with her distant mother Adora, her stepdad Alan and her precocious 13 year old half sister Amma, whom she barely knows. The family have never recovered from the death of Camille’s sister Marion, who died when Camille was 13.
Camille is haunted by the death of Marion and is troubled by the grip Amma seems to have over the town. As clue’s over the young girl’s disappearance turn into dead ends, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims and realises she will have to unravel the puzzle of her own past.
What a cracking thriller this was! Two little girls are found murdered, with their teeth removed but with no signs of sexual assault and the police have no idea who is responsible. Told in the first person from Camille’s point of view, she is a really interesting and disturbed character. The death of her sister severely affected her as a teenager – she became sexually promiscuous, drank and engaged in self harm and eventually ended up in a psychiatric hospital. It was hard to warm to her as a character – her choices were sometimes questionable.
There are secrets and lies throughout and it was real page turner. A really disturbing read, we all enjoyed it very much, although one member found the subject of child murder too hard to read about. I was really impressed that this was Flynn’s debut. It was well written, shocking and exciting. If you want a great thrilling read, with lots of twists and turns, that leaves you feeling slightly uneasy, then this is the book for you.
Sharp Objects premiered on HBO in 2018, staring Amy Adams. I hope to watch it one day – one book club member had seen the series before reading the book and she felt it was a good adaption.
About the author:
Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.
Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families, violence and self-harm.
In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.
Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.