imagesNote:  This review reveals plot turns and spoils surprises contained in the book.  Go read the book (you won’t be disappointed)…then come back and read the review!

Nick and Amy Elliot Dunne, New Yorkers who have both lost their jobs, move back to Carthage, Missouri, ostensibly to care for Nick’s mother Mo, who is dying.  Quickly we learn that it is their fifth wedding anniversary and Nick is tense.  He leaves the house to go to work at the bar he and his twin sister Margo (he calls her Go, a minor annoyance throughout the book) have bought with a loan from Amy.  Once there, he gets a call from a neighbor.  Nick’s front door is standing open and the cat has gotten out.  Nick goes home, the door is indeed open and the inside of his house is trashed, blood pooling on the floor of the kitchen.  Amy is gone.

The story is told in chapters alternating between Nick and Amy’s points of view.  In part one, Amy’s chapters are taken from her diary where she chronicles how they met and fell in love.  She sounds like a great catch: young, beautiful and rich (her parents are psychologists who penned a hugely successful children’s series, Amazing Amy, based on you know who).  But after she and Nick marry, her parents need to take back a major chunk of her inheritance.  Thus begins the slow disintegration of the relationship between Amy and Nick.  After the move, she continues to try her hardest (according to her diary entries) to get back to being the fun couple of their early days.  But Amy is scared of the distant, cold man her husband has become.  She believes he wants to divorce her but now that she is six weeks pregnant, knows he’ll never do it (he cares too much about what others would think of him).  But she does think he might kill her to get out of the marriage.  She goes to buy a gun.

Nick’s chapters delineate how the police narrow their search until he is the only obvious suspect.  And he does act suspicious.  He’s not particularly upset Amy is missing.  He has a disposable cell phone that rings daily but he doesn’t answer.  His alibi for the morning Amy goes missing is weak—his own twin doesn’t believe it.

Part two opens with an Amy chapter where she is talking to us on the day she goes missing:  she’s driving away from Carthage.  On the car seat beside her is a checklist she has worked on for the past year:  how to frame her cheating husband Nick for her “murder.”  Amy discovers Nick is having an affair with a young student.  Instead of confronting him, she keeps this knowledge to herself and plans her revenge.  The rest of the story is riveting.  Amy’s diary is complete fiction and planted for the police to find and, she hopes, believe.  During the year she has planned the frame-up, she meticulously plants false ideas about herself:  everyone knows she faints at the sight of blood.  But the pool of blood found in the kitchen is Amy’s, which she engineered by cutting her own arm.  This is one sick chick.

The story takes a nice twist when Nick figures out what Amy’s doing and he decides he’s going to try to outwit her.  I won’t spoil the ending but I will say that Gillian Flynn is a superb storyteller and has a wickedly strong hand at the keyboard.

I still have four more novels to read and review for the Edgar Awards Best Novel, but I doubt any of them will surpass Gone Girl.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate it a 9.

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