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  New York Times Review

Gillian Flynn's ice-pick-sharp "Gone Girl" begins far too innocently by explaining how Nick and Amy Dunne celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. Amy got up and started making crepes. Nick came into the kitchen, appreciating his wife's effort but wondering why Amy was humming the theme song from "M*A*S*H." You know, that "suicide is painless" thing. "Well, hello, handsome," Amy says to her husband. "Bile and dread inched up my throat," Nick recalls, although Ms. Flynn's spectacularly sneaky novel does not explain that, not right away. Anyway, Nick leaves the house after breakfast. He heads to work. While he is gone, Amy disappears into thin air. It almost requires a game board to show how Nick and Amy move through this book. They met at a party in Brooklyn and were momentarily smitten. (Move one step forward.) Eight months later they connected for real. They got married. (Another step forward.) Then Nick lost his job. (One step back.) So they had to move back to Nick's hometown, North Carthage, Mo., which Amy hated. (Another step back.) In Missouri they had the kinds of fights, infidelity, money troubles and other noir-style problems that witnesses will remember now that Amy's gone. (Nick, go to jail.) Perhaps these sound like standard-issue crime story machinations. They're not. They're only the opening moves for the game Ms. Flynn has in mind, which is a two-sided contest in which Nick and Amy tell conflicting stories. Each addresses the reader: Nick in the present tense, and Amy by way of an italics-filled, giddily emotional diary about the marriage. Both Nick and Amy are extremely adept liars, and they lied to each other a lot. Now they will lie to you. Nick's narrative begins the book, and it illustrates how many different ways there are to dissemble. Like many a less clever unreliable narrator, Nick likes lies of omission. The reader has to figure this out very gradually, because Ms. Flynn is impressively cagey about which details she chooses to withhold. But when the police come calling, Nick lies to them outright and even asks for the reader's sympathy. A guy who recently increased his wife's life insurance policy? Who has a hot temper? Who has a young and pretty girlfriend he's been seeing on the sly? Being honest is simply not an option for him. The invisible Amy can talk only about her past behavior. She began keeping the diary in 2005, and it describes the marriage as an emotional roller coaster. Even when the fights began, Amy went to elaborate efforts to be cheerful and boost her husband's spirits, but she grew more and more worried as the marriage spiraled downward. Gee, she even reached the point of thinking she needed a gun. An ordinary writer might think this a fully stocked pond. But Ms. Flynn, a former critic for Entertainment Weekly, is still just warming up. She has many peculiar details to add. Here are some about Amy: She is no ordinary New York girl. She is the daughter of parents who wrote a string of "Amazing Amy" books with an idealized version of their daughter as the heroine. Amy still remembers the stalkers she had as a child. The books made Amy famous and her family rich. But their emphasis on perfectionism was more than a little creepy. The books even contained quizzes about what Amazing Amy would do under various circumstances, and Amy made up those quizzes herself. As an adult, she still weirdly gave herself multiple-choice options when she married: Abducted Amy, stuck in North Carthage. North Carthage is right near Hannibal, the home of Mark Twain. (Move one step forward if you see how Tom Sawyer has been worked into "Gone Girl." And not just because the Dunne house is on the Mississippi River.) Amy was also either adorable or freaky enough to stage a treasure hunt for each wedding anniversary. One measure of Ms. Flynn's diabolical finesse is the Rorschach test she has made out of each of Amy's written clues. We have many chances to examine them before this book is over. Then there are the potentially troubling things about Nick. He owns a bar with his twin sister. He used Amy's money to finance the place but resents her for that. He has also taken a teaching job but still fumes about being fired by a magazine in New York. Although his temper does rage at times, he has a charming smile at others. Much to his disadvantage, Nick smiled winningly for the cameras while being questioned by the news media about his lost wife. And Nick has a secret life that did not involve Amy. On the morning she vanished, he was off doing something that he is deeply ashamed of, and it is not revealed until late in the novel. Ms. Flynn's idea for Nick's biggest secret will be, for some readers, the most startling detail in a book that is full of terrific little touches. "Gone Girl" is this author's third novel, after "Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places." "Dark Places," in particular, drew attention from mystery aficionados, but "Gone Girl" is Ms. Flynn's dazzling breakthrough. It is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they're hard to part with — even if, as in Amy's case, they are already departed. And if you have any doubts about whether Ms. Flynn measures up to Patricia Highsmith's level of discreet malice, go back and look at the small details. Whatever you raced past on a first reading will look completely different the second time around.

  Library Journal Review

With her third novel (after the acclaimed Sharp Objects and Dark Places), Flynn cements her place among that elite group of mystery/thriller writers who unfailingly deliver the goods. On the day of her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes from her home under suspicious circumstances. Through a narrative that alternates between Amy's diary entries and her husband Nick's real-time experiences in the aftermath of her disappearance, the complicated relationship that was their marriage unfolds, leaving the reader with a growing list of scenarios, suspects, and motives to consider. Meanwhile, the police, the press, and the public focus intently on Nick, the journalist-turned-bar owner who uprooted Amy from her comfortable New York life to return to his Missouri hometown. VERDICT Once again Flynn has written an intelligent, gripping tour de force, mixing a riveting plot and psychological intrigue with a compelling prose style that unobtrusively yet forcefully carries the reader from page to page. [See Prepub Alert, 12/19/11.]-Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* When Nick Dunne's beautiful and clever wife, Amy, goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary, the media descend on the Dunnes' Missouri McMansion with all the fury of a Dateline episode. And Nick stumbles badly, for, as it turns out, he has plenty to hide, and under the pressure of police questioning and media scrutiny, he tells one lie after another. Juxtaposed with Nick's first-person narration of events are excerpts from Amy's diary, which completely contradict Nick's story and depict a woman who is afraid of her husband, has recently found out she's pregnant, and had been looking to buy a gun for protection. In addition, Amy is famous as the model for her parents' long-running and beloved children's series, Amazing Amy. But what looks like a straighforward case of a husband killing his wife to free himself from a bad marriage morphs into something entirely different in Flynn's hands. As evidenced by her previous work (Sharp Objects, 2006, and Dark Places, 2009), she possesses a disturbing worldview, one considerably amped up by her twisted sense of humor. Both a compelling thriller and a searing portrait of marriage, this could well be Flynn's breakout novel. It contains so many twists and turns that the outcome is impossible to predict.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A perfect wife's disappearance plunges her husband into a nightmare as it rips open ugly secrets about his marriage and, just maybe, his culpability in her death. Even after they lost their jobs as magazine writers and he uprooted her from New York and spirited her off to his childhood home in North Carthage, Mo., where his ailing parents suddenly needed him at their side, Nick Dunne still acted as if everything were fine between him and his wife, Amy. His sister Margo, who'd gone partners with him on a local bar, never suspected that the marriage was fraying, and certainly never knew that Nick, who'd buried his mother and largely ducked his responsibilities to his father, stricken with Alzheimer's, had taken one of his graduate students as a mistress. That's because Nick and Amy were both so good at playing Mr. and Ms. Right for their audience. But that all changes the morning of their fifth anniversary when Amy vanishes with every indication of foul play. Partly because the evidence against him looks so bleak, partly because he's so bad at communicating grief, partly because he doesn't feel all that grief-stricken to begin with, the tide begins to turn against Nick. Neighbors who'd been eager to join the police in the search for Amy begin to gossip about him. Female talk-show hosts inveigh against him. The questions from Detective Rhonda Boney and Detective Jim Gilpin get sharper and sharper. Even Nick has to acknowledge that he hasn't come close to being the husband he liked to think he was. But does that mean he deserves to get tagged as his wife's killer? Interspersing the mystery of Amy's disappearance with flashbacks from her diary, Flynn (Dark Places, 2009, etc.) shows the marriage lumbering toward collapse--and prepares the first of several foreseeable but highly effective twists. One of those rare thrillers whose revelations actually intensify its suspense instead of dissipating it. The final pages are chilling.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer. As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
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