Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I have a bad habit of judging a book by its author bio and photo.* So, when I picked up Sharp Objects, I thought, "Oh, a mystery novel by a young, attractive person who writes for Entertainment Weekly. This should be daffy fun." And that is how I learned a valuable lesson about rushing to judgment and underestimating an entertainment writer's capacity for darkness and depravity.
This book is not what it seems. On the surface, it is the story of a young reporter working for a crummy Chicago newspaper who returns to her hometown to cover the story of two little girls murdered there. Now, that is not even the half of it, but it's all I'm willing to say here because it is all too good and unexpected to be spoiled.
In his blurb for Sharp Objects, Stephen King writes, "I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them." This is currently where I am in the book, and feel pretty much the same way. Flynn's narrative voice is harsh, ugly, and completely merciless, yet somehow, this doesn't keep you from wanting to finish Sharp Objects in a single sitting.
If you liked...: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson or Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, this book is for you.
* Still, I stand by my assessment of Special Topics in Calamity Physics. It wouldn't have made the slightest difference to me if Marissa Pessl was a pock-marked crone with a back hump. That book is just no darn good.