On the day of Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary Amy disappears. There are signs of a struggle in their house and no sign or sighting of Amy.
While Nick calls the police as soon as he finds his house with the front door still open and his living-room turned upside down he doesn’t appear as shocked or worried as you might expect. And he is lying to the police. Half way through the day of his wife’s disappearance Nick says: “It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just starting.”
It isn’t long before Nick becomes the main suspect in Amy’s disappearance and his actions in the subsequent days do nothing to take that suspicion away. In fact, the longer Amy is gone the guiltier Nick appears to be.
As in alternating chapters we are told the Nick’s story during the days following his wife’s disappearance, in his own words as well as the story of Amy and Nick’s relationship through years worth of diary entries by Amy the picture of a troubled and rather unbalanced relationship emerges. And as the police investigates Nick is discovering things about his wife and her life that are completely new to him and as far as he is concerned, completely out of character Amy. By the time the first part of the story ends Nick is up to his neck in trouble with hardly anybody on his side and an increasing number of clues pointing at his guilt.
And that is all I can say about this story without spoiling it for other readers. Because this is a book in which nothing is what it seems. A story in which shock follows shock and the reader is constantly second guessing events and revelations.
It is amazing how hard it is to write a positive review about a story in which I distinctly dislike both the main characters. Even though I know the book is exceptionally well written and the story is compelling and addictive in the same way a natural disaster can be, the descriptions and actions of Amy and Nick still make me want to slam the book. And that would be so unfair. Because this is an absolutely fascinating story. The tension is palatable, the undercurrents treacherous and it very soon becomes clear to the reader that nothing either Nick or Amy shares with them can be trusted.
Yes, I did want to throw the book at the wall on several occasions and just stop reading it. As I’ve said in previous reviews, I have an issue with books in which I can’t relate to any of the main characters (think The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen) and tend to give up on them rather than struggle on. Giving up on this book was never an option though. I had to know what exactly was going on, what had happened to Amy and why. I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how the story would end.
Gillian Flynn is very good at grabbing her readers and keeping them hooked. Nick and Amy may not be sympathetic characters but they are fascinating in a scary sort of way. And Flynn is a very good writer. The sentences flow, the tension is built up at a steady pace and questions are introduced and answered at exactly the right time.
This is a good thriller, although certain aspects of the book made it feel more like a horror story. This is a book for anyone who likes their stories well plotted, dark and memorable.