Payback is the name of the game in Gillian Flynn’s latest novel Gone Girl. Flynn, the author of two previous books – the stellar Sharp Objects and the slightly less stellar Dark Places – crafts a compelling portrait of a marriage told from the perspective of each party.
Using a sinister split narrative, Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and his wife Amy. When Amy disappears on the day of the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, the police immediately presume Amy is dead and put Nick under a very hot spotlight.
In a marriage promising to be all Hawaiian vacations, new cars and 2.2 children, Nick and Amy seem to have the perfect life. But (of course) there is trouble in paradise. Alternating between the two points of view, we learn of Nick’s affair and Amy’s angst, all while a media firestorm whips up around Amy’s disappearance.
Nick quickly becomes convinced his wife’s disappearance is no accident, and as the novel moves along, we become convinced as well… An interesting game of cat and mouse ensues, building to a conclusion as satisfying as it is surprising.
Flynn’s straightforward prose and complex character development rapidly push the tempo and, as complications arise late in the story, readers will find the novel difficult to put down.
Like Sharp Objects and Dark Places before it, Gone Girl explores the darker aspects of human nature, examining the sociopathic mind in all its splendor. Nick and Amy are a couple readers are unlikely to forget.
The book ends more with a whimper than a bang, but then again, that seems to parallel the life our couple is fated for.