A beautiful married woman suddenly and mysteriously disappears and her husband immediately becomes the chief suspect in her murder. It’s a storyline so frequently used in books and films that it’s almost become a worn-out cliché.
But that is definitely not the case in Gillian Flynn’s third and latest psychological thriller, Gone Girl. Flynn’s ability to reach further and further into the deep, dark recesses of the human psyche brings a much greater edge and feeling of suspense to this novel. Gone Girl is a fast-paced, always surprising page-turner of a book. It’s not only a murder mystery, but a commentary on the disappearance in the last decade of nearly everything we hold near and dear, from jobs to our parents’ health and welfare to the landscape of our cities and towns.
At the same time, it’s a novel about the stories that we tell and the lies that we perpetuate to form a narrative of our own lives.
Flynn masterfully narrates the book from the perspective of both husband and wife, alternating voices from one chapter to the next, using Amy’s recollections from the past and her husband Nick’s ongoing narration of the events after his wife has vanished. It’s a unique and difficult literary device that Gillian Flynn does with ease.
Beginning with Amy’s sudden disappearance, to the local police department’s slipshod investigation and the media’s obsessive coverage, Gone Girl is a thrilling roller coaster of a ride with enough twists and turns to give the reader whiplash. The novel could probably have ended more quickly and decisively, but the pacing of most of this story is pitch-perfect. Flynn deserves credit for creating not just an exciting murder mystery, but also forcing us to look at the lies we tell ourselves.
Gone Girl is a superbly crafted novel by a talented and daring young writer and it will keep you guessing until the very last sentence. Grade: B+