‘Sharp Objects’ — Never Dull

After Gone Girl, I knew I needed more Gillian Flynn in my life. So, I went with her first novel, Sharp Objects.

Sharp Objects presents a little bit of a challenge for me, review-wise. It was good in that I enjoyed reading it, but does a novel have to be more than enjoyable? This really wasn’t and I don’t know if I should fault it for that.

Camille Preaker, a reporter for a two-bit newspaper in Chicago, is sent to her hometown deep in Missouri meth-lab country to report on a series of brutal child murders. (Check your skepticism here, because it won’t survive any longer). Because this is a novel and it needs plot contrivances, she stays with her mother, fiction’s most neurotic, harmful matriarch this side of Carrie, and comes to recognize disturbing features of the murders that unearth near-dormant things in her past she’d prefer to leave hidden.

Like Gone Girl, Sharp Objects is deliciously wicked, fast-paced and addictive. Reading it felt like eating a melting ice cream cone – even going as fast as I could go, I wanted more. That being said, I also had the feeling I get when I watch late-night made-for-TV movies on hotel cable or something. There’s a mindless quality here. I never felt challenged, provoked or encouraged to care all that much about anything. It was like the horrific revelations were calculated to keep you from thinking too much, like Flynn thought if enough waves of shock value washed over you, you’d be too stunned to question why the characters were so flat and why the plot was so B-list horror movie.

So, was Sharp Objects good? In a word, yes. It checked all the boxes that I, a mystery novel novice, would expect to be checked. If there’s any question to whether it shows a particular refinement, unique elegance or distinguishing sophistication, though, it doesn’t. Maybe that’s okay?

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