Murder mystery isn’t normally my genre of choice. Not sure why not, because invariably I enjoy it on those rare occasions I read it. But, hey, I was spending 12 days in sunny Corfu so in keeping with the spirit of holiday as being a break from the norm, I downloaded Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. (Though in the spirit of full disclosure – see, I’ve been getting into the whole detective thing – I should probably mention it was free with a Galaxy Ripple bar.)
Camille Preaker is a cub reporter with the Chicago News, Chicago’s fourth most popular newspaper. In a bid to grab an exclusive and boost circulation her editor sends her to report on the serial murder of two nine year old girls in her home town of Wind Gap. The murderer has an unusual m o: both victims’ teeth were removed after they were killed. Camille has her own bloody quirk, as she used to cut herself, carving words into her skin.
Once I got over the shock of the first line – Camille’s voice is that of a hard-bitten, Sam Spade, rather than a ‘cub’ reporter – I was engaged. Ok, so the characters are one-dimensional and there’s more sex, drugs and vomit than are necessary to the plot, but the story is nicely paced for all that, and even guessing the killer’s identity before I’d read even half the book it didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
I found the explication overly laboured, or maybe that was because I’d picked up on the clues in the first place and already knew who done it, and at times the prose suffers from Flynn seemingly writing with one eye on a future film deal (cue stamping up and down screaming “What have you done”). But there is an unexpected, deliciously macabre (visual) touch more than makes up for it.
A great book? Not really. An entertaining read? Yes. And I bet the film will be worth a look too.
** Worth reading