WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. With its taut, crafted writing, Sharp Objects is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable. From the Hardcover edition.
eMusic Review 0
The debut novel of Entertainment Weekly‘s TV critic.
The first mystery novel by Gillian Flynn, TV critic for Entertainment Weekly, shows a fascination with the humiliations the female body can endure — both self-inflicted and spiritual. When mediocre reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to find a link between the murders of two teenaged girls — and, like most middling journalists, if she can’t see one she’ll create one — she’s drawn into a cycle of recrimination and bitterness upon reuniting with abandoned friends and her mother, the town scion. Flynn’s decision to make Camille a mediocre reporter is smart: as readers we’re eager to see her improve; moreover, it creates suspense the Hitchcockian way by putting us in the queasy position of figuring out the denouement before Camille.
Flynn has studied David Lynch: she can distinguish between old and new grass planted in front of a new home, and wrinkles nary a nostril at the “sweet, spittoon scent of female sex” in a motel room. She and Lynch also share an interest in studying how the boredom of small town life masks a subterranean evil. As the horrors accumulate, what’s left is Flynn’s empathy for her grotesque characters, a compassion that allows her to extend beyond the conventions of her chosen genre. Sure, to the tick of a metronome comes the romance between Camille and the big city detective sent to investigate; so does a confrontation in which Flynn succumbs to what Roger Ebert called the Fallacy of the Talking Killer, burdened additionally by the reductive psychoanalysis that’s de rigeur in murder mysteries. But for all the standard plot devices Sharp Objects manages to deviate from the pack, thanks to Flynn’s grasp of her utterly destroyed cast of characters.