Review by Sandra Ruttan

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 regret it.

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.


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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