Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Amy and Nick were the perfect couple, beautiful former New York writers, about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, when the world falls apart and Amy disappears in Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller – Gone Girl.

Flynn begins the story as a romance – a marriage with some problems. Amy and Nick have moved to Nick’s boyhood home in Missouri after the recession hit and Nick lost his job. Using what’s left of Amy’s trust-fund – from her parents’ popular children’s books series “Amazing Amy” loosely based on Amy’s life –  he opens a bar with his twin sister in a town far away from the East Coast buzz. As the chapters alternate between Nick’s eye-witness account, starting with the day Amy is found missing, and Amy’s journal – backtracking to the day they met – Flynn lulls the reader into what seems to be an innocuous crime story of a missing wife. It doesn’t take long to realize that neither Amy nor Nick are who they seem to be, and that their marriage is no longer an ideal relationship. Both are lying; both have secrets. Flynn dangles the lies and contrives an intricate pattern of malevolence.

When you find out who is telling the bigger lies, the action becomes riveting. Under suspicion for killing his wife (the husband is always the first suspect), Nick faces the wrath of his in-laws, his hometown, and the general public (courtesy of TV talk shows).  Flynn adds a treasure hunt with incriminating letters and Amy’s multiple choice life options (a reference to her former job creating Sunday supplement psychological quizzes) to fuel the action with sociopathic twists and psychological drama.

Then, the story turns – into a fractured “The Talented Mr. Ripley” theme.   The ending is not satisfying; it was creepy and full of malice.  The possibilities that Flynn creates for the future include a morose cliffhanger that would be better left unresolved… a tantalizing study of amorality in characters whom anyone would avoid, if they only knew the truth.

New Summer Beach Books

Although the weather in Hawaii promotes year-round beach reading, summer still comes to the islands – with more tourists looking for that idyll that lets them escape for a few weeks.  Janet Martin’s article for the New York Times – New Under the Sun: Books for Basking  – made it to the front page of the Honolulu Star Advertiser recently, and I was happy to see her top beach read is Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (check out my review here).

Her list of fiction to read this summer – that I might try – includes:

  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
  • The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow
  • Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (thriller)
  • Granddad, There’s A Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill (mystery)

A few nonfiction piqued my interest too:

  • Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley
  • Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Diane Daphne Sheldrick

    It promises to be a long hot summer, and when the trade winds stop blowing, August in Hawaii can be as hot and humid as Washington, D.C. without the air conditioning.

Check out Maslin’s article for more reading suggestions and book summaries.