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Gone Girl, 2

When I wrote about Gillian Flynn’s new thriller Gone Girl last Monday, I hadn’t started reading it. In fact, it wasn’t even available yet, the next day being its publication date. But before bedtime on Monday, I was able to download it to my Kindle, and I began reading it right away.

Tuesday night, I was wondering if I had made a wise reading choice. This probably stems from my over-attachment to the model of a thriller in which there is a sympathetic hero, someone we learn to like, flaws and all. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, who may in fact have no flaws. Martin Walker’s French police chief Bruno, whom I would love to drop in on and have dinner with some time.

The focus of Gone Girl is a husband and wife in a small Mississippi River town north of St. Louis. The wife disappears; the husband becomes a suspect. That’s not giving much away. The chapters alternate in viewpoint between the two, and alternate in time as well, covering the years before the disappearance and the weeks after. I had been inspired to read the book by Janet Maslin’s NYT review a week earlier, from which I knew it didn’t fit the Reacher-Bruno model. I had figured that would be okay, but the problem was, I wasn’t finding either character a particularly good companion. Did I really want to read a whole book about them?

Slowly I began to realize that Flynn had far more up her sleeve. Halfway through, I was on to something special. The book was transforming into a brilliant, dark comedy. Let’s see. What did Maslin say? That Gone Girl “is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they’re hard to part with.” Yes, exactly. The book is great fun.

Brava.

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