Read Two Weeks Ago: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, 2006, 9780307341549.
I grabbed this one, her first novel, after reading her second. I liked the second better but this is still above average.
Camille Preaker is a crime reporter for a third rate newspaper in Chicago. After two murders of young girls in rural MO Camille is sent there to, hopefully, get a scoop. She is sent because she grew up there.
Camille is quite alienated from her mother. Camille's younger sister died when Camille was 14 (Camille is now about 28 yrs old). Camille had not seen her mom since the mother came to visit when Camille was hospitalized for cutting. Camille's cutting has been going on since she was 16 or so and she carves words onto her body. She feels the words flame up at different times under different circumstances, shame, hate, potatoes, etc.
Camille stays with her wealthy mom, distant step-dad, and starts to learn about her half-sister - who she does not remotely recognize when first meeting on the street. Half-sister is a manipulative 14 year old. Half-sister ruthlessly runs her little clique and even controls the school. Half-sister is sexually active and likes drugs and booze.
Camille investigates. Camille's mother is Munchhausen by proxy and - obviously to the reader but reluctantly by Camille - poisoned her dead daughter and occasionally poisons Half-Sister. Things happen. Camille suspects, fears, and loves mom. Camille wants mom to love her but knows she does not. Camille and 14 year old Half-Sister do Ecstasy and Vicodin. Camille screws detective cop on the case. Camille keeps her clothes on during sex because the scars cover her from ankle to wrist to collarbone. Camille later screws 18 year old murder suspect but does take her clothes off. Camille breaks the case by searching and finding evidence of the two dead girls in Camille's mom's bedroom.
Camille takes Half-Sister back to Chicago. Half-Sister's new friend is murdered. Half-Sister is real killer. Camille still all messed up and relying on her father-figure editor.
1. Girl all alone.
2. Girl abusing self. In this one with cutting, in last one with booze and isolation.
3. Dead family member(s).
4. Murdered children.
5. Old crime being solved.
6. High school relationships revisited and those relationships helping to define people as adults.
1. Flynn does some good writing. I liked the second one better but Flynn has her crap together. She puts together some really well done characters and gives them things to worry about.
2. Flynn does a good job hooking you with Camille's personal mysteries of cutting, dead sister, abusive mother, etc.
3. Great look at the local women who still live their relationships like they did in high school. Camille comes back to town and resists falling into the same actions and behaviors. She succeeds with those former classmates but not with her mother.