Before "Gone Girl," Gillian Flynn wrote "Sharp Objects," the cover of which is shown here

Gillian Flynn gained fame (and undoubtedly fortune as well) with the advent in 2012 of her third novel, Gone Girl, and the 2014 film adaptation starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. The book was a #1 New York Times bestseller for many months. Within its first year of publication, there were more than two million copies of the novel in print. To my mind, Gone Girl is a perfect example of the sort of book that should win literary awards but doesn’t, simply because it falls into the mystery and suspense genre. I reviewed the book here: A bestselling New York Times thriller that’s worth all the fuss. (Later I reviewed the author’s second novel, Dark Places, at A roller-coaster ride through the depths of depravity in rural Kansas.)

Before Gone Girl, a dark family story

Flynn’s first novel was Sharp Objects, published in 2006. I’ve only now gotten around to reading it, and I’m glad I did. Sharp Objects displays the same steady buildup of suspense, the same complexity in its characters, and the same steady revelation of surprises from beginning to end. Like both the author’s other novels, it’s dark. Very dark. The protagonist, 30-something Chicago newspaper reporter Camille Preaker, is not the ambitious but cynical young newshound she seems at first. Not at all. And whatever is wrong with her, which doesn’t fully come to light until well into the story, is easy enough to understand once you meet her mother and her young half-sister.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006) 272 pages ★★★★★

Kirkus Review called the novel “A savage debut thriller that renders the Electra complex electric, the mother/daughter bond a psychopathic stranglehold.” And Publishers Weekly wrote, “Flynn gives new meaning to the term ‘dysfunctional family’ in her chilling debut thriller.”

On April 18, 2018, Amazon Studios announced a nine-episode, straight-to-series deal with Flynn as creator and showrunner of an American adaptation of the hit British television series, Utopia. Flynn is no stranger to visual media, having written the screenplay for Gone Girl as well as a comic book script.

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