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A messed up childhood with a toxic mother figure. A smart, worldly con artist who does some fortunetelling on the side. A mysterious, and possibly haunted, house. A distraught mother and her son who may or may not be a budding sociopath. That is how Gillian Flynn’s latest book, The Grownup: A Story by the Author of Gone Girl, begins and, all too abruptly, ends.
With this short story (part of George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology), I have now read all of Gillian Flynn’s books, and I have to say I’m torn. On the one hand, Flynn does the impressive job of managing to pack all the dread and atmosphere of her longer works into a tight, focused story. Her characters, the nameless protagonist, the distressed mother, and the possibly sociopath son, all crackled with the same dark, frantic energy of all of her other characters; and the dynamic between the protagonist and the son was brilliant! The plot was fairly standard, at least at first, but by the end she throws in such a sharp plot twist that leaves open such interesting possibilities I was wishing that I was reading a full-length novel instead of a 66 page short story.
However, for as much as Gillian is able to pack into this otherwise dark and emotionally intense short story, overall I felt the whole thing was a bit mechanical. The protagonist, for as compelling as she is, has the same messed up childhood and awful mother figure as Camille Preaker of Sharp Objects. The twists and turns of the plot, also, seem to owe much from her other works. That said, if she were to take what she’s written thus far and turn it into a full novel, I would be the first on the list to read it!
This is a dark, and graphic short story, one that I would caution against suggesting to patrons who may be more sensitive to explicit descriptions of sex or violence. However, if you’ve got someone who like their mysteries dark and is wanting something short to tied them over until the next Ruth Ware book, then this is one I’d definitely recommend.