Oliver and Barbara, the toxic married couple from The War of the Roses, have nothing on Nick and Amy Dunne, the co-narrators of Gillian Flynn's dazzlingly dark, searingly intelligent new thriller.
The novel opens as Nick -- "I used to be a writer... back when people read things on paper, back when anyone cared about what I thought" -- finds that Amy has gone missing on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary.
Their front door is open, the coffee table shattered, books scattered, and Amy, a trust-fund New Yorker who has been miserable since Nick dragged her to his Missouri home town to care for his dying mother, is gone.
Nick calls the police, of course, but there's something off about his reactions. He keeps referring to Amy in the past tense, and then catching himself. And he is not quite worried enough about her disappearance.
Gone Girl switches between Nick's narrative, as the hunt for the beautiful, blonde Amy consumes the attention of America's media, and Amy's diary, as she writes about the early days of their relationship. "Tra and la! I am smiling a big adopted-orphan smile as I write this... I met a boy!" she says. And then later: "He promised to take care of me, and yet I feel afraid."
Gradually, the two stories begin to converge. The pointed finger of media -- and police -- blame starts to swing Nick's way, and he doesn't endear himself to his readers as a hint of misogyny enters his tone.
And there's something odd about Amy's diary too; her version of the events of their past is different from Nick's, and grates in its perfection.
Flynn, an extraordinarily good writer, plays her readers with the finesse and delicacy of an expert angler, practically guaranteeing an immediate reread once her terrifying, wonderful conclusion is reached.
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