I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn back in October as part of my annual spooky reading spree and was surprised to realize last week that I’d never written a review of it because I really liked it. In fact, I liked Sharp Objects much better than Flynn’s more well-known novel, Gone Girl.
Camille Preaker is a young woman who works for a lower-tier newspaper in Chicago. Her boss, Curry, hears about two murders of young girls in a small Missouri town and wonders if it might be a serial killer story. Always on the lookout to break a big story that the larger Chicago papers might miss, Curry sends Camille to the little town of Wind Gap, MO. He knows that Camille is originally from Wind Gap and hopes that might give her an “in” with the locals that other reporters won’t have. What he doesn’t know is why Camille left Wind Gap and never looked back.
Camille obediently drives back to her hometown, with her sense of dread growing all the way. When the reader is introduced to Camille’s mother, step-father, and half-sister, Amma, we begin to understand her dread. This is one screwed-up family. As Camille tries to deal with old issues while staying at her mother’s house, she also does her job and begins to investigate the recent horrific murder, as well as the year-old case. The local police chief is not too happy to have a Chicago reporter hanging around, questioning him, but Camille is persistent.
Bit by bit, as Camille investigates and begins to unravel the murder cases, the reader begins to see glimpses of Camille’s own closely held past. With her strange family, it’s no wonder she did a recent stint in a psychiatric hospital, though the exact reason for it isn’t immediately revealed. It is the combination of murder mystery and the mysteries of Camille’s own past that make this unique novel so incredibly compelling. I was hooked right from the first chapter.
The whole story is engaging, twisty, and very clever, but it’s Camille herself who holds the novel together. That is a big part of the reason why I liked Sharp Objects better than Flynn’s more popular Gone Girl. There wasn’t a single likable character in Gone Girl that I could root for. In contrast, despite Camille’s many flaws, I was rooting for her right from the beginning, and my empathy for her only grew, even as her problems and addictions were revealed. She is a flawed character but very real.
The plot itself will keep you up far past your bedtime, as it did me. It’s an excellent and suspenseful mystery, with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing right until the end. That, combined with such a unique leading lady as Camille, made Sharp Objects a fabulous thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed and one of my top 10 books read in 2014.
252 pages, Broadway Paperbacks