Sharp Objects

Flynn gives new meaning to the term "dysfunctional family" in her chilling debut thriller. Camille Preaker, once institutionalized for youthful self-mutilation, now works for a third-rung Chicago newspaper. When a young girl is murdered and mutilated and another disappears in Camille's hometown of Wind Gap, Mo., her editor, eager for a scoop, sends her there for a human-interest story. Though the police, including Richard Willis, a profiler from Kansas City, Mo., say they suspect a transient, Camille thinks the killer is local. Interviewing old acquaintances and newcomers, she relives her disturbed childhood, gradually uncovering family secrets as gruesome as the scars beneath her clothing. The horror creeps up slowly, with Flynn misdirecting the reader until the shocking, dreadful and memorable double ending. She writes fluidly of smalltown America, though many characters are clichés hiding secrets. Flynn, the lead TV critic for Entertainment Weekly, has already garnered blurbs from Stephen King and Harlan Coben.

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