Star rating – 4/10
I realise that I really should know better by now, but rave reviews and ‘contender for thriller of the year’ notices are truly not a guarantee that I will appreciate a crime novel. And sadly that is very much the case for Gillian Flynn’s new page turner Gone Girl.
To be fair it starts off very promisingly, and unusually for crime fiction, the two main characters are normal happy all American types with no hint of a misdemeanour in sight. Nick Dunne has moved his Manhattan born and raised wife Amy back to his native Missouri backwater to care for his elderly ailing parents. They seemed to have it all as chic journalists and writers in the Big Apple, but first Nick, then his wife Amy have lost their jobs in the economic downturn. Amy is not too bothered about their finances as she has a very healthy trust fund.
But tragedy strikes when Amy suddenly disappears from their new home. Signs of a violent struggle are evident, and Nick’s inability to express any emotion leads him to be prime suspect. The first third of the book is really engrossing, as each partner takes it in turn to tell the story from their own viewpoint. Nick’s account is of the harrowing days immediately after Amy’s disappearance – Amy’s is via a diary of the previous few years that she has kept.
But the horrifying twist when it comes, and you do know that there will be a twist, turns the whole thing on its head. That sounds like a good thing in a crime novel – right? Well, no, wrong actually as it leaves two characters neither of whom are what they seemed to be (not necessarily a literary crime - pardon the pun) or remotely likeable, which is much more problematic. Nick and Amy both emerge from their toxic wreckage of a life as despicable and weak human beings at best. In the end all I felt was sullied and defiled as I read the warped and totally preposterous denouement.
So if this is going to be a bestselling crime A-lister, then count me out. Now what else is everyone else reading at the moment, something about shades of grey?