One of the most exhilarating reading experiences for me is to pick up a debut novel and be completely surprised by it – in a very good way. Gillian Flynn is a resident of Chicago and chief TV critic at Entertainment Weekly. I’ve enjoyed her witty, playful reviews for years. None of her work prepared me for her first book – a mesmerizing thriller that slowly builds a vibe of dread and without any overt force, almost effortlessly unravels the reader.
Sharp Objects is written in first person and tells the story of a reporter, Camille Preaker, who is sent on assignment by a second string Chicago newspaper to Wind Gap – a small Missouri town – to cover the killing of a little girl and the disappearance of another.
Flynn eschews the formulaic trappings of a thriller – there are no cliffhangers that end each chapter, no page turning tricks. She brings each character into the story in slices and uses an impressionist way of describing them. “She was so insubstantial, I could imagine her slowly evaporating, leaving only a sticky spot on the edge of the sofa.”
She is assured enough to piece together the puzzle for us well before the final chapter. Although she submits to one mass market somersault in the end – it easy to forgive her. Because, by then, she has delivered a stunner.