When Ken Bruen tells you to read a book you don’t
ask why, you just go out and buy it ASAP, and you don’t
In Sharp Objects the story begins with mediocre reporter
Camille Preaker, forced to take an assignment covering the
murder of a young girl and disappearance of another. The
catch? Preaker must return to her hometown, where the crimes
are taking place.
Long before Preaker arrives in Wind Gap, Missouri, it’s
clear she doesn’t want to go home and has some serious
issues to deal with. Getting to the root of those issues
and understanding Preaker’s problems is part of the
journey through this book, along with the search for who
killed two young girls.
Saying too much about this book risks giving away some of
the things that make Sharp Objects a worthy read. The characterization
is rock solid and the town of Wind Gap comes alive through
Flynn’s expert narrative.
Sharp Objects delves far beyond the initial crimes that
serve as the catalyst for the story and into the heart of
pain and hurt and the nasty things that families do to each
other. The Bible talks about sin being passed down one generation
to the other: In Sharp Objects it’s sin and sickness
that’s carried along with the genes, a sickness where
people hurt themselves and others.
I think it’s fair to say I didn’t find the solution
to the crime particularly surprising and I had one major
believability issue with the book. However, in order to
explain the believability issue this paragraph contains
a spoiler. There is an unfortunate reality in much crime
fiction that coincidence takes just the right person home
to deal with personal issues that lead to the solution,
and it is one of the limitations of the genre writers face
when they don’t write police procedurals. Furthermore,
the ending undermined the believability of the premise.
Once this reader knew that Preaker’s editor was aware
of her issues and the severity of her problems, and once
this reader knew how deeply concerned the editor was for
Preaker (to the point of taking her into his home in the
end to care for her) it was impossible for this reader to
believe the editor would have forced her to return home
and stay with her family. A person demonstrating as much
concern for another as the editor did would never put someone
with such serious problems in that position to begin with.
This is, however, a solid debut. I would never call this
a happy read, but it is one that made me think and lingered
with me long after I finished the final page.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Sandra Ruttan's debut novel, Suspicious Circumstances, was released
in January 2007. Her short fiction has appeared in Out of
the Gutter, Demolition, Mouth Full
of Bullets, Crimespree Magazine, The
Cynic and Spinetingler. For more information
visit her website.
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2007 SPINETINGLER Magazine - All rights reserved