The setup for Gone Girl, the third book from critically acclaimed author Gillian Flynn, is deceptively simple. Having both recently lost their jobs in the writing industry, married couple Nick and Amy Dunne move from New York City back to Nick’s hometown of North Carthage, Missouri. Using the last of Amy’s trust fund money Nick opens a bar with his twin sister and the Dunnes try to adjust to their new life.
Two years into their residence in North Carthage, on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary actually, Nick returns home from the bar to find signs of a violent struggle in their house on the Mississippi River, but no sign of Amy. The police are called, a search is launched, and the reader is primed for what seems to be a routine where is she/whodunit mystery.
Folks, there is nothing routine about Gone Girl.
Told in chapters that alternate between Nick’s and Amy’s point of view, author Gillian Flynn presents Gone Girl as the ultimate case study of a marriage that has gone horribly off the rails. Not all at once, mind you, but slowly, painfully over time, like watching video of a building imploding in slow motion. Divided into three sections, Gone Girl is a masterful piece of writing that knows precisely which buttons to push for optimal manipulation, both between Nick and Amy as well as between Flynn and the reader. The more Flynn reveals the less the reader actually knows, as every little detail and nuance which came before is continually cast into doubt and shadows by subsequent discoveries and reveals.
Though it’s clear almost from the outset neither Nick nor Amy is a reliable narrator – Nick keeps lying about seemingly inconsequential things, Amy seems just a little too perfect in her diary entries – the question remains exactly how unreliable is each, and due to what motivations? Gone Girl has the feeling that nothing is quite as is seems, and challenges the reader to continually sift through details and reassess information against an ever-shifting scale of trustworthiness. The difference between keeping readers off-balance and making them feel betrayed is an extremely fine line, yet it’s one Flynn skates with supreme confidence and razor edge precision.
Gone Girl is sure to be one of the summer’s hottest reads, and demonstrates in no uncertain terms that author Gillian Flynn is one of the hottest rising stars in the world of psychological mysteries/thrillers.
Gone Girl is available from Crown Publishing Group (ISBN: 978-0307588364).
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