Camille Preaker is a low-level journalist in Chicago. Her boss and father figure wants some new edgy material to get more readers and he has the perfect piece for her, an investigation into a double kidnapping and potential murder of two young girls a year apart in her home town. Camille begrudgingly travels back to Wind Gap, a small town where she escaped as soon as possible from the gossiping girls, abusive men and worst of all, her mother. Shortly after arriving the body of the kidnapped girl appears in the middle of town and Camille knows she must stay around to figure out who is responsible.
Before I go any further I will make clear that individuals with mental health issues are going through so much more than what is on the surface and we cannot assume anything about what they're going through. With this being said Camille is very problematic for me, setting aside her clear self-harm issue she has a very insistent that the whole world is against her and makes no effort to connect to anyone to disprove the theory. Her "the world is against me" attitude became boring really fast with few redeeming features. She made few connections with the residents of Wind Gap and on the occasions that she did it was only in return for her own gain.
Having seen the HBO TV series I knew the twist ending beforehand and for first time readers the double sided twist would have been an incredible ending. For me it was interesting to read it knowing the ending and seeing all the warning signs that we miss the first time round. Flynn is known for her twist endings and this was a perfect example an "oh my god" moment in the last few pages. All of the characters came with their own troubles but our murderer was troubled from the first interaction with Camille and I struggle to comprehend how a first time reader wouldn't pick up something odd about them, but I'm not sure if that's my prior knowledge shadowing my vision of the book.
As Flynn writes gripping thrillers her writing style is short and snappy to hold attention and build tension. This kind of writing usually works really well for me since I find long sentences and paragraphs about necessary interactions a struggle, however Flynn loses a lot of the emotion and empathy in her style. The characters didn't connect with me and I didn't find myself relieved for Camille when she escaped her mother, or find the romantic connections very compelling.
I would suggest to thriller lovers that this is worth the read just for the shock twists at the end, but the general writing and reader connection isn't strong enough for me to mark it above a 3 out of 5 stars, 3.5 at a push. The twist ending was the strongest redeeming feature for me, it would have been impossible to predict.