I’m one of the lucky ones, able to read, knit, do crossword puzzles in a car. As the passenger, mind you. A recent jaunt to Pittsburgh to visit my brother, sister-in-law and their darling eight-month-old, promised nearly ten hours of reading there and back. Down I had Vince Flynn’s latest political thriller, The Last Man, a reader’s equivalent to a double scoop of Hagen Dasz: you know what you’re getting, it’s delicious for as long as it lasts, and pretty soon you’re done. Flynn didn’t disappoint and Mitch Rapp, his signature Black Ops alpha male, remains invincible, brutally tough and heroic.
Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was for the ride back. Don’t think the two Flynns are related by the way. I started Gone Girl over the weekend and was singularly uninspired. Despite the book being the hit novel of the summer, I couldn’t get into it. Didn’t like either protagonist, neither the husband whose wife has disappeared leaving him as the police’s only person of interest, nor the disappeared wife, whom we come to know in alternating chapters through a series of diary entries. But after two or three of these volleys between the two of them (six chapters more or less), Flynn had me hook, line and sinker. I was her tennis ball, willingly lobbed back and forth across the net of this superbly crafted novel.
I don’t want to give anything away other than to tell you Gillian Flynn managed me make me both loathe, and root for, Nick Dunne and his wife Amy. Each chapter brought new revelations, small details dispensed by Flynn with a banker’s parsimony that left me slack-jawed and turning pages as fast as I could. I went to sleep with half the book read, eager to get to the bottom of this mystery before we reached Toledo.
But then the baby started crying. Instead of settling back to sleep, I began thinking of Nick and Amy and where I had left them. Creeping out of bed and across the hall to my brother’s study, I read until dawn. A bird chirped and when I looked up the sun had ignited a strip of crimson across the deep blue sky. I kept reading until the crimson faded to pale pink and then disappeared altogether. Gillian Flynn had me to the end, wondering on whose side of the net the ball would finally drop. Not for nothing was she nominated for an Edgar for her first novel, Sharp Objects. Car trip or not, I’m ready for another ride with Gillian Flynn at the wheel.