Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Rating: 4 Stars

It had me at the first page, and kept me hooked till the last. So many ‘suspense’ novels telegraph their grand climax well before the reader is half-way through that, we nearly forget the enjoyable sensation of being kept on tenterhooks. It’s nice to get an occasional reminder once in a while.

Nick Dunne, on the day of his fifth anniversary returns home to find his wife, Amy, missing. He calls in the police, and the search begins in the small town of Carthage, Missouri. The evidence points all too damningly to the usual suspect in such cases. While there may be more than one side to any story, Nick’s perspective on his tottery marriage and his spouse does not win him much sympathy. The scariest place to be is inside someone’s head, and Flynn leads us into the darkest nooks and crannies of her protagonists’. The distinction between being a self-absorbed jerk and a narcissistic psychopath may be merely a difference of degrees.

Predictably the hunt for Amy soon turns into the usual media circus; with ratings-hungry talk-show hosts quivering with self-righteous outrage, slick attorneys, and casual acquaintances avid for their fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

Gone Girl scores an enviable double whammy. It’s a thriller that beckons with a promise of sexy, wicked fun, and before we know it, has us by the throat with its ferocious intelligence and startlingly acute insight.

There are some questionable angles, but it’s easy to overlook those when the author has gratified in so many other respects. One of the charms of this book is the way it slyly upends clichés – the lawyer who is the go-to guy for uxoricide suspects is apparently happily married; romance’s cherished ideal of a knight in shining armor is not every girl’s idea of the perfect man; incorrigible love-birds are annoying to the rest of us, as Nick nastily remarks on his grieving in-laws "cherishing each other" every chance they get. And while hope may be ‘the thing with feathers’, love can and does sport scales, fangs, and claws.

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