GONE_GIRLAccording to the Missing Persons Bureau in the UK 200,000 people went missing in England between 2009 and 2010. In Ireland 8,511 people were reported missing in 2011. While in the US, the FBI received 661,593 missing person reports, in 2012. There are various reasons why people go missing, but do we ever really understand what those reasons are and what happens to those who are left behind?  This month’s book states that there are two sides to every story; the book is Gillian Flynn’s, Gone Girl.

Gone Girl is this years most talked about work of fiction, in much the same respects as Fifty Shades was last year’s, except with out the sex and titillation. This is the former TV critic’s third novel following on from her 2006 debut, Sharp Objects and the 2009 book Dark Places.

Gone Girl is the story of a married couple Amy and Nick Dunne, who seem to have everything. Amy is the daughter of famous novelists and the inspiration for a series of “Amazing Amy” children’s books. While Nick is an ex newspaper columnist, who after losing his job in NYC, convinces Amy to move to his sleepy home town of Carthage, Missouri after his Sister Margo or  “Go” calls for help in looking after their Alzheimer afflicted father. Nick invests some of the couple’s (Amy’s trust fund) money into buy a bar with his sister. Everything’s going well until the day of their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy just disappears. All the clues lead to a violent abduction and the distinct possibility that Amy is lying dead somewhere. The two local detectives, Boney and Gilpin, start working the case and very soon they have a suspect, thanks to some very incriminating clues. But is Nick the Killer? Is Amy dead? Or is there a more sinister game being played by someone and is that game revenge no matter what the cost?

USA - Portraiture - Gillian Flynn

The book tells the story through the eyes of Nick in real time and Amy in the past tense from her Diary. For the first 200 pages, I found myself skimming through the Amy’s chapters to get back to Nick’s real time description of events, as I thought Amy’s diary distracted from a good murder mystery.

I felt sorry for Nick, but I often wanted to slap him for being an idiot at times too, but more then anything else he’s a well written character who is believable from the get go. Then bang! On 214 pages and nearly halfway through, Flynn hits you with a ‘curve ball’ out of ‘left field’. You’re immediately left scrambling to adjust to the pace and direction of the story from there on in. It was then I realised why everyone was jumping up and down and raving about this book.

As for Amy, I found her whiney, selfish, introverted and irritating.  By the end of the book, I’d have taken a shovel or shotgun to her myself.  She reminded me of a couple of women I know, one in particular who makes me and other members of my close circle seethe with fury. The other characters in the book are glossed over; the only one who really stuck with me was Nick’s sister “Go”, who I envisaged as looking like Kathy Bates. Her relationship with Nick is portrayed excellently; she is his only support, even when he cocks up. Otherwise Carthage and its various inhabitants’ come across as your regular bunch of mid-western small town inhabitants.

If anything, the book reminded me of the Kathleen Turner, Michael Pike nd AfleckDouglas movie “War of the Roses”, but this book takes that premise to the whole new level. Talking of movies, there is a movie adaptation in pre-production as I write. Set for release in 2015, with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike signed up the play the lead roles.

This book does for missing persons what Emma Donoghue’s – “Room”, does for abductees. It brings you inside the mind and suffering of those left behind. More importantly, what a husband goes through because as we know; they’re the number one suspect in all these cases, until proven innocent or until they break under damning evidence. It also highlights the warped and rather dark side of certain individuals and how deep down even the most grounded relationships can eventually take their toll on those at the centre. It asks the question; do you ever really know the person you live with?

So my advice would be, run out and get this book. But while you do that, you might want to pick up a stab vest and a secure lock for the spare bedroom door. We all have secrets, and harbour the odd bad thought about our loved ones, but you never really know how dark and devious theirs are. You also may want to heed the warning on  the inside cover of this book, “Marriage can be a real killer…

(first published 2013)


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