Camille Preaker, 32, works for a third-rate Chicago newspaper. Then she returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on a human-interest story: the murders of two preteen girls, strangled to death, their teeth removed by their killer. As she starts to investigate these deaths, Camille revisits her dysfunctional, violent past: a society-driven mother and stepfather, a precious teenage half-sister, and her own troubled childhood, marred by years of self-mutilation with a razor. As family secrets and childhood memories surface, Camille finds herself caught in a further web of violence.
Shaye Areheart Books. 254 pages. $24. ISBN: 0307341542
San Jose Mercury News
"This powerful, mesmerizing novel grabs us in horror and makes us look hard at a bitterly difficult clash of cultures in middle America, between the supposedly genteel, matriarchal past and an invasive but illuminating modern world. … It’s a stunning, powerful debut from someone who truly has something to say." John Orr
"A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction. … It has all the narrative drive of a serious pop novel and much of the psychological complexity of a mainstream character study. All in all, a terrific debut." Alan Cheuse
"On one level, Sharp Objects is a clever look at small-town America and how violence can affect such a closeted society. … This is not a comfortable novel of touchy-feely family fun." Tom Walker
"What is truly remarkable about Sharp Objects is that Camille is arguably the most reasonable and attractive person in it—wait till you meet her family and friends. This novel is, among other things, a masterpiece of misanthropy." Patrick Anderson
"Sharp Objects is a tense and troubling murder mystery, a compulsively readable psychological thriller that marks the dazzling debut of a new Chicago novelist. … But it is the sensitive yet disturbing depiction of her heroine that makes this an especially engrossing story." Joe Kolina
Critics agree that Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller and murder mystery is a far more sophisticated offering than a debut novel has any right to be. Flynn, the Chicago-based television critic for Entertainment Weekly, paints a clever, sensitive, and scathing portrait of small-town America—"Wind Gap truly is the home town from hell," notes the Washington Post—while portraying a convincing heroine consumed by violence, past and present. Flynn’s vivid prose captures human foibles perfectly. If Camille’s career is an old trick of the trade, it’s a minor flaw in an otherwise stunning novel, "a tough tale told with remarkable clarity and dexterity, particularly for a first-time author" (Denver Post).