Once in a really great while, I read a review of a new piece of modern fiction and figure that I need to give it a read as soon as possible. Usually, I forget about it. But Jeff Giles in Entertainment Weekly sold me so thoroughly on Gillian Flynn's third novel Gone Girl that I decided to get it promptly. I'm very glad that I did. The book's amazing.
The setup is slow and deliberate and does not paint either Nick nor his wife Amy, who vanishes on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, at all well. It spends about the first hundred and twenty pages building as a scathing indictment of the Nancy Grace "convict everybody" culture, where it's naturally assumed that whatever happened, the husband did it. Nick's dumb, shit-eating grin and his failure to be totally honest with the police do not help.
120 pages in, there's a thunderous end to a chapter which will force readers to consider that neither Nick nor Amy, whose stories are told in alternating chapters, are being totally honest with the readers, either. This then builds with a frightening new urgency, as neither Nick nor Amy's words can be trusted any longer, and then, round about the time the book comes to a big black page, we start to learn just how utterly messed up this marriage was. Absolutely nothing can be trusted.
Reviewers have been careful not to spoil this one, and with good reason. I've read many books with twists and turns, but I've rarely read one that so masterfully yanked the rug completely out from under me, and then waited just long enough for me to dust myself down before doing it again. And again. It is not airtight - would that I could tell you about the three loose ends that I spotted, but North Carthage, Missouri doesn't seem to employ the most skilled and trained of police detectives - but it is assembled with remarkable care and attention. The two stories complement and contradict each other at precisely the right places. The story might not be watertight, but the telling of it is. It's fascinating, fun in the bleakest way, and certainly comes recommended.