Sharp Objects: A Novel

Sharp Objects: A Novel

Paperback | July 31, 2007

byGillian Flynn

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Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

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Sharp Objects: A Novel

Paperback | July 31, 2007
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From the Publisher

FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF GONE GIRLFresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister sh...

GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl and the New York Times bestsellers Dark Places and Sharp Objects. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, her work has been published in 42 countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8 × 5.1 × 0.6 inPublished:July 31, 2007Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307341550

ISBN - 13:9780307341556

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Customer Reviews of Sharp Objects: A Novel


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delightfully Dark and Disturbing This book was hands down the most terrifying, eerie, bone-chilling novel I've ever read, and it was fantastic. The whole overall tone and feel of the book was creepy from beginning to end, so creepy in fact that I had to put the book down and take a break to regain my sanity. Sharp Objects reminded me why Gillian Flynn is my favourite author: her writing style/diction/sentence structure, her characters that are so easy to indulge yourself into, and her jaw-dropping crazy murder mysteries that keep you guessing. This was a phenomenal book and I loved every page.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Disturbing ... I loved it! I recommend this book! I liked the fact that I couldn't figure out how the book will end and in most scenes the book made me cringe or want to drink a large glass of wine to settle my nerves.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but in a really disturbing way I would love to live in Flynn's brain, she seems like a delightful mixture of disturbing and hilarious. Wouldn't immediately recommend to people who are sensitive to subjects of self harm, rape, and child abuse. It gave me nightmares for a few nights, but proved to be an excellent source of entertainment.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Book I loved this book. It is a great psychological thriller with lots of twists.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK! This book isn't your every day murder mystery. I enjoyed it cover to cover!!!
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read! I thought this book was excellent. I enjoyed this book a lot more than Gone Girl, although that was a good book also. The story is very dark and twisty- a real page turner. If you are looking for a good, dark, psychological thriller read this ASAP!
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different #plumreview A good story but parts were difficult to read.
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Was ok Not quite into it as much as gone girl....but was still a good one. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read Very disturbing read, definitely not for all. left you with a very creepy feeling.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Read This is the first Gillian Flynn novel I have read. After seeing Gone Girl I purchased this book. Though it has a similar dark twist at the end, this book and it's characters where less engaging. The twist at the end becomes obvious early on and the main character is not relatable. Overall a good read but if it weren't for Gone Girl I would not be interested in reading another of her novels.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sharp Objects Not my favorite Gillian Flynn book, but it was still pretty good. It seemed a little predictable and the characters were a little too extreme for my liking, but it was a good, quick read.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I would call a great book it was okay.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dark. If you are looking for a dark thriller, this is your book!
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Creepy & Disturbing If you love a good psychological thriller that will leave you with a creepy feeling, then this is the book for you. Gillian Flynn is a master of smart and disturbing novels and this is not an exception.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The darkest book I've ever loved! This book is brilliantly written, I flew through it even though the themes and story is extremely dark. One of my favorite books and it kept you guessing till the very end and ends with a sad but satisfying ending. If you don't enjoy twisted stories about deep-rooted family troubles, I would not recommend. But if you like mystery/thrillers with a dark twist you will definitely enjoy this one. I would pick this up over gone girl any day.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow. That's all. Just wow. This book is dark and twisted, but oh boy, what a read. I find myself an emphatic reader that can't get into books that are too dark, but Sharp Objects is an exception. If you're looking for a thriller, you've come to the right place. Give it a try! You won't be disappointed (not by this book, or any of Flynn's books for that matter)
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dark is an Understatement This book is incredibly dark and disturbing. It is a fantastic story with well developed characters that leap off of the page. If you are a fan of darker literature, it is a great read!
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not as good ad Dark Places While I didn't enjoy this book as much as Dark Places Still ad excellent read. The "words" didnt seem as necessary to the plot as the autghor priroitised them as. The final twist was so worth it
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating Read This novel really made me appreciate the relationship I have with my own family. The details were very creative and interesting and the novel itself was extremely well written.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The first cut is the deepest This book is SO. GOOD. I liked it more than Gone Girl. Its pretty morbid and disturbing, but the mystery and intrigue had me hooked. I thought I had it all figured out, and then the end blew my mind. Definitely not a book for everyone, but I will force all my friends to read it.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! Gillian Flynn is one of my favorite authors! I've loved everything she's written. Hope she has another book out soon. She is so good at writing twisted psychological thrillers! I couldn't put down Sharp Objects. I wanted to find out Camille's secrets. Every twist & turn was beautifully crafted! I will read it again & again!! As well as all of Gillian Flynn's other books.
Date published: 2016-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deliciously dark This book kept me interested until the end. Her characters are all described so well that it feels like you are right in the story. If you don't like a dark story though this is not the book for you. The book is hard and edgy but well worth it. Not your average murder mystery - a step above.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining. Overall was a good read and not as disturbing as Gone Girl was. It kept you guessing until the end!
Date published: 2015-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed, was a good read Gillian Flynn's characters are dark with many issues, it is a theme in all her books, I don't mind it. Her books are well written and fast paced.
Date published: 2014-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dark, Disturbing Gillian Flynn can do no wrong. Out of Gillian Flynn's three novels, I read Sharp Objects last. Although it wasn't my favourite of the three, it was still just as dark and disturbing as the previous two. Flynn is the master of writing protagonist characters that you absolutely loathe, yet you can't help rooting for them. If you're a fan of the dark
Date published: 2014-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Recommend if you like twisted/messed up stories! This book is a mystery/thriller and this being my first Gillian Flynn book I don't regret picking it up, it was so twisted and creepy. Sharp Objects is about a women, Camille Parkers a reporter who's just been released from a short stay at the psych hospital. She is told to cover a story about young girls being murdered in her home town. Camille hasn't been back since she left eight years ago and now will be staying at her mother, Adora's house during her stay in Wind Gape. Her mother raised Camille but never loved her. Camille doesn't know her half-sister but comes to realize that she's a spoiled thirteen year old who still throws tantrums over her dollhouse but acts like an adult when around her friends. Camille also realizes that her half-sister is mean to everyone but in front of Adora Camille's half-sister acts like a little girl who needs to be held and tended too and needs her mother. The story has it's twists and turns about who the murder might be and you discover more about Camille and her family along the way. The book is messed up and twisted, in a way you want to know who is killing these girls and why Camille's family is so messed up. Even though I really like this story and it's a small book it took me a bit of time to get through it. However, I do recommend Sharp Objects to those who like mystery/thrillers and to pick this up before the movie adaptations is on big screens.
Date published: 2014-05-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disturbing - Would not recommend to all I picked this up after reading Gone Girl and I think it was actually better than Gone Girl but it was much darker and very disturbing. I found it difficult to put down but I almost wish I hadn't read it. I feel as though after reading something so dark, I need to cleanse my mind. I would not recommend this book to many people, especially those of a sensitive nature. This book will leave an impression.
Date published: 2013-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nothing short of psychologically creative Sharp Objects was the second book by Ms. Flyyn that I have had the pleasure of immersing myself in. After reading Gone Girl, I think it's safe to say that my expectations were VERY high. I wasn't as impressed by this book, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the writing itself was still on point, and the storyline, nothing short of creative. The story opened in one of my much loved cities, Chicago, but quickly found itself unraveling in the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri. I'm still not sure if it was intentional, but I had a hard time grasping onto an idea of the towns inhabitants and lifestyle. On the one hand, the residents were wealthy, but then they were just as easily working as housemaids in their friends homes-the picture just wasn't painted too clearly, I was quite lost in that sense. Camille, our highly disturbed protagonist, was quite the character. I couldn't decide if I appreciated her for her struggles, or if I resented her for her stupidity. She was kind-hearted, and honest, and quick witted, but she was also self-conscious, and vulnerable, and nonchalant. I feel like all of those things didn't quite work together to pain the clearest picture of her either. I also had a hard time picturing her as a female character, especially one that was supposed to stunningly beautiful. She almost just "threw" herself through the storyline, almost as though she was in a huge pinball machine-she would hit certain climaxes, and then just as easily fall through some holes. With that said though, I felt for her, especially towards the end, and decided that she was a character I enjoyed reading about and hearing from. Secondary characters were appalling in this novel-in the greatest sense of the word. I both despised and welcomed the brassiness of Amma, a 13-yr old princess of the rotten sort. Their mother was also another amazing role-it was almost impossible not to hate her, but a (disturbed) part of me always wanted to hear her opinion, predict her movements. There were characters of the small town sort as well, who all played there part a bit clichéd sometimes-I didn't really care much for them, and kind of got them mixed up at times. The storyline itself was another thing. Another fantastic thing. I alternated from the comfort of my bed, to the slight discomfort of my couch, to the There was nail biting and burning questions and "AHA! I know who done it!" thoughts. But such is not the way of Gillian Flynn. She kept me guessing until the end, the VERY end, until literally a few pages from the end..end. As with Gone Girl, I absolutely LOVED her thought process. I admired and appreciated the time in which she took to map out a series of events that thrilled me, disturbed me, confused me and CAPTURED me..ALL AT ONCE. An absolute master of her craft, this novel was something completely out of the ordinary, yet it could be something happening in your very backyard, should it choose to. Fans of psychological thrillers would definitely appreciate this novel, and already fans of Gillian Flynn will applause another job well done.
Date published: 2013-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! Gillian Flynn's first novel "Sharp Objects" is a gripping thriller. Flynn's main character Camille is a reformed cutter trying to live a normal life as a reporter in Chicago. When she is sent to investigate a series of murders in her hometown she is thrown back into her desperately flawed family and disturbing childhood. The characters are tragic but relatable and I couldn't put it down. You may figure out "who-dun-it" but that doesn't diminish the dramatic mystery that unfolds.
Date published: 2012-12-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It’s Dysfunctional I’m not sure what to think of Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. It’s very dark, the atmosphere and the characters. It’s dysfunctional, twisted, and places a heavy focus on unhealthy relationships; a main course I’d normally gobble up, but, not in this case. I just couldn’t connect with the characters. The murder mystery kept me reading on. I knew who the killer was around the one-hundred page mark. I was correct, but I didn’t expect the twist at the end involving the murder of the young girls. I will read more from the author. Debut novels are not always a writer’s best work.
Date published: 2012-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely Potent Reason for Reading: I read Gone Girl earlier this month and thought it was just OK but I had read Dark Places years ago and loved it, so I wanted to read this, Flynn's first book, to see which opinion of her as a whole author I had of her. Sharp Objects presents a completely unique premise for a thriller that kept me on my toes and excited throughout the book. From the first few pages I knew I was going to like the main character and she proved to be a multi-layered personality who did many unexpected things and yet remained true to her character. The three main female characters were all highly intricate psychological studies of deeply affected personalities who the reader never knew whether they were truly good or bad. While I won't say I was on the edge of my seat, as I had decided upon one of two possible solutions, I will say Flynn keeps you guessing until the very end. And even when you think the whole case is solved, she pulls out one final twist to unnerve you and make sure you go to bed feeling slightly creepy about the whole thing. I had a hard time deciding whether I liked this or Dark Places better since it has been some years since I read it, but I re-read my review and it brought the whole book back to me and this one wins out ever so slightly. As a first book, this is extremely potent and Flynn has followed up well with two more. Even though I thought Gone Girl was less than stellar, I still enjoyed it and will be looking forward to her next book.
Date published: 2012-09-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from fantastic gripping read. The title of the novel and the wonderful reviews it has recieved engaged me to read the book. I was impressed with the author's (Gillian Flynn) ability to make me understand who the characters in the book were, with such an immpeccable attention to detail. Just when you think you know how the story will end; Flynn steers you in one direction to make you believe what is going to happen next, then throws in clever yet tastefully wicked twists. Such a thrilling reading experience. A strong first novel for Gillian Flynn. Cannot wait for the second.
Date published: 2007-09-17

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter One My sweater was new, stinging red and ugly. It was May 12 but the temperature had dipped to the forties, and after four days shivering in my shirtsleeves, I grabbed cover at a tag sale rather than dig through my boxed-up winter clothes. Spring in Chicago. In my gunny-covered cubicle I sat staring at the computer screen. My story for the day was a limp sort of evil. Four kids, ages two through six, were found locked in a room on the South Side with a couple of tuna sandwiches and a quart of milk. They'd been left three days, flurrying like chickens over the food and feces on the carpet. Their mother had wandered off for a suck on the pipe and just forgotten. Sometimes that's what happens. No cigarette burns, no bone snaps. Just an irretrievable slipping. I'd seen the mother after the arrest: twenty-two-year-old Tammy Davis, blonde and fat, with pink rouge on her cheeks in two perfect circles the size of shot glasses. I could imagine her sitting on a shambled-down sofa, her lips on that metal, a sharp burst of smoke. Then all was fast floating, her kids way behind, as she shot back to junior high, when the boys still cared and she was the prettiest, a glossy-lipped thirteen-year-old who mouthed cinnamon sticks before she kissed. A belly. A smell. Cigarettes and old coffee. My editor, esteemed, weary Frank Curry, rocking back in his cracked Hush Puppies. His teeth soaked in brown tobacco saliva. "Where are you on the story, kiddo?" There was a silver tack on my desk, point up. He pushed it lightly under a yellow thumbnail. "Near done." I had two inches of copy. I needed six. "Good. Fuck her, file it, and come to my office." "I can come now." "Fuck her, file it, then come to my office." "Fine. Ten minutes." I wanted my thumbtack back. He started out of my cubicle. His tie swayed down near his crotch. "Preaker?" "Yes, Curry?" "Fuck her." Frank Curry thinks I'm a soft touch. Might be because I'm a woman. Might be because I'm a soft touch. Curry's office is on the third floor. I'm sure he gets panicky-pissed every time he looks out the window and sees the trunk of a tree. Good editors don't see bark; they see leaves--if they can even make out trees from up on the twentieth, thirtieth floor. But for the Daily Post, fourth-largest paper in Chicago, relegated to the suburbs, there's room to sprawl. Three floors will do, spreading relentlessly outward, like a spill, unnoticed among the carpet retailers and lamp shops. A corporate developer produced our township over three well-organized years--1961-64--then named it after his daughter, who'd suffered a serious equestrian accident a month before the job was finished. Aurora Springs, he ordered, pausing for a photo by a brand-new city sign. Then he took his family and left. The daughter, now in her fifties and fine except for an occasional tingling in her arms, lives in Arizona and returns every few years to take a photo by her namesake sign, just like Pop. I wrote the story on her last visit. Curry hated it, hates most slice-of-life pieces. He got smashed off old Chambord while he read it, left my copy smelling like raspberries. Curry gets drunk fairly quietly, but often. It's not the reason, though, that he has such a cozy view of the ground. That's just yawing bad luck. I walked in and shut the door to his office, which isn't how I'd ever imagined my editor's office would look. I craved big oak panels, a window pane in the door--marked Chief--so the cub reporters could watch us rage over First Amendment rights. Curry's office is bland and institutional, like the rest of the building. You could debate journalism or get a Pap smear. No one cared. "Tell me about Wind Gap." Curry held the tip of a ballpoint pen at his grizzled chin. I could picture the tiny prick of blue it would leave among the stubble. "It's at the very bottom of Missouri, in the boot heel. Spitting distance from Tennessee and Arkansas," I said, hustling for my facts. Curry loved to drill reporters on any topics he deemed pertinent--the number of murders in Chicago last year, the demographics for Cook County, or, for some reason, the story of my hometown, a topic I preferred to avoid. "It's been around since before the Civil War," I continued. "It's near the Mississippi, so it was a port city at one point. Now its biggest business is hog butchering. About two thousand people live there. Old money and trash." "Which are you?" "I'm trash. From old money." I smiled. He frowned. "And what the hell is going on?" I sat silent, cataloguing various disasters that might have befallen Wind Gap. It's one of those crummy towns prone to misery: A bus collision or a twister. An explosion at the silo or a toddler down a well. I was also sulking a bit. I'd hoped--as I always do when Curry calls me into his office--that he was going to compliment me on a recent piece, promote me to a better beat, hell, slide over a slip of paper with a 1 percent raise scrawled on it--but I was unprepared to chat about current events in Wind Gap. "Your mom's still there, right, Preaker?" "Mom. Stepdad." A half sister born when I was in college, her existence so unreal to me I often forgot her name. Amma. And then Marian, always long-gone Marian. "Well dammit, you ever talk to them?" Not since Christmas: a chilly, polite call after administering three bourbons. I'd worried my mother could smell it through the phone lines. "Not lately." "Jesus Christ, Preaker, read the wires sometime. I guess there was a murder last August? Little girl strangled?" I nodded like I knew. I was lying. My mother was the only person in Wind Gap with whom I had even a limited connection, and she'd said nothing. Curious. "Now another one's missing. Sounds like it might be a serial to me. Drive down there and get me the story. Go quick. Be there tomorrow morning." No way. "We got horror stories here, Curry." "Yeah, and we also got three competing papers with twice the staff and cash." He ran a hand through his hair, which fell into frazzled spikes. "I'm sick of getting slammed out of news. This is our chance to break something. Big." Curry believes with just the right story, we'd become the overnight paper of choice in Chicago, gain national credibility. Last year another paper, not us, sent a writer to his hometown somewhere in Texas after a group of teens drowned in the spring floods. He wrote an elegiac but well-reported piece on the nature of water and regret, covered everything from the boys' basketball team, which lost its three best players, to the local funeral home, which was desperately unskilled in cleaning up drowned corpses. The story won a Pulitzer. I still didn't want to go. So much so, apparently, that I'd wrapped my hands around the arms of my chair, as if Curry might try to pry me out. He sat and stared at me a few beats with his watery hazel eyes. He cleared his throat, looked at his photo of his wife, and smiled like he was a doctor about to break bad news. Curry loved to bark--it fit his old-school image of an editor--but he was also one of the most decent people I knew. "Look, kiddo, if you can't do this, you can't do it. But I think it might be good for you. Flush some stuff out. Get you back on your feet. It's a damn good story--we need it. You need it." Curry had always backed me. He thought I'd be his best reporter, said I had a surprising mind. In my two years on the job I'd consistently fallen short of expectations. Sometimes strikingly. Now I could feel him across the desk, urging me to give him a little faith. I nodded in what I hoped was a confident fashion. "I'll go pack." My hands left sweatprints on the chair. I had no pets to worry about, no plants to leave with a neighbor. Into a duffel bag, I tucked away enough clothes to last me five days, my own reassurance I'd be out of Wind Gap before week's end. As I took a final glance around my place, it revealed itself to me in a rush. The apartment looked like a college kid's: cheap, transitory, and mostly uninspired. I promised myself I'd invest in a decent sofa when I returned as a reward for the stunning story I was sure to dig up. On the table by the door sat a photo of a preteen me holding Marian at about age seven. We're both laughing. She has her eyes wide open in surprise, I have mine scrunched shut. I'm squeezing her into me, her short skinny legs dangling over my knees. I can't remember the occasion or what we were laughing about. Over the years it's become a pleasant mystery. I think I like not knowing. I take baths. Not showers. I can't handle the spray, it gets my skin buzzing, like someone's turned on a switch. So I wadded a flimsy motel towel over the grate in the shower floor, aimed the nozzle at the wall, and sat in the three inches of water that pooled in the stall. Someone else's pubic hair floated by. I got out. No second towel, so I ran to my bed and blotted myself with the cheap spongy blanket. Then I drank warm bourbon and cursed the ice machine. Wind Gap is about eleven hours south of Chicago. Curry had graciously allowed me a budget for one night's motel stay and breakfast in the morning, if I ate at a gas station. But once I got in town, I was staying at my mother's. That he decided for me. I already knew the reaction I'd get when I showed up at her door. A quick, shocked flustering, her hand to her hair, a mismatched hug that would leave me aimed slightly to one side. Talk of the messy house, which wouldn't be. A query about length of stay packaged in niceties. "How long do we get to have you for, sweetness?" she'd say. Which meant: "When do you leave?" It's the politeness that I find most upsetting. I knew I should prepare my notes, jot down questions. Instead I drank more bourbon, then popped some aspirin, turned off the light. Lulled by the wet purr of the air conditioner and the electric plinking of some video game next door, I fell asleep. I was only thirty miles outside my hometown, but I needed one last night away. In the morning I inhaled an old jelly doughnut and headed south, the temperature shooting up, the lush forest imposing on both sides. This part of Missouri isn't quite mountainous, but the hills are massive, like giant rolling swells. Hitting a summit, I could see miles of fat, hardy trees broken only by the thin strip of highway I was on. You can't spot Wind Gap from a distance; its tallest building is only three stories. But after twenty minutes of driving, I knew it was coming: First a gas station popped up. A group of scraggly teenage boys sat out front, barechested and bored. Near an old pickup, a diapered toddler threw fistfuls of gravel in the air as his mother filled up the tank. Her hair was dyed gold, but her brown roots reached almost to her ears. She yelled something to the boys I couldn't make out as I passed. Soon after, the forest began to thin. I passed a scribble of a strip mall with tanning beds, a gun shop, a drapery store. Then came a lonely cul-de-sac of old houses, meant to be part of a development that never happened. And finally, town proper. For no good reason, I held my breath as I passed the sign welcoming me to Wind Gap, the way kids do when they drive by cemeteries. It had been eight years since I'd been back, but the scenery was visceral. Head down that road, and I'd find the home of my grade-school piano teacher, a former nun whose breath smelled of eggs. That path led to a tiny park where I smoked my first cigarette on a sweaty summer day. Take that boulevard, and I'd be on my way to Woodberry, and the hospital. I decided to head directly to the police station. It squatted at one end of Main Street, which is, true to its word, Wind Gap's main street. On Main Street you will find a beauty parlor and a hardware store, a five-and-dime called Five-and-Dime, and a library twelve shelves deep. You'll find a clothing store called Candy's Casuals, in which you may buy jumpers, turtlenecks, and sweaters that have ducks and schoolhouses on them. Most nice women in Wind Gap are teachers or mothers or work at places like Candy's Casuals. In a few years you may find a Starbucks, which will bring the town what it yearns for: prepackaged, preapproved mainstream hipness. For now, though, there's just a greasy spoon, which is run by a family whose name I can't remember. Main Street was empty. No cars, no people. A dog loped down the sidewalk, with no owner calling after it. All the lampposts were papered with yellow ribbons and grainy photocopies of a little girl. I parked and peeled off one of the notices, taped crookedly to a stop sign at a child's height. The sign was homemade, "Missing," written at the top in bold letters that may have been filled in by Magic Marker. The photo showed a dark-eyed girl with a feral grin and too much hair for her head. The kind of girl who'd be described by teachers as a "handful." I liked her. Natalie Jane Keene Age: 10 Missing since 5/12 Last seen at Jacob J. Asher Park, wearing blue-jean shorts, red striped T-shirt Tips: 588-7377 I hoped I'd walk into the police station and be informed that Natalie Jane was already found. No harm done. Seems she'd gotten lost or twisted an ankle in the woods or ran away and then thought better of it. I would get in my car and drive back to Chicago and speak to no one. Turns out the streets were deserted because half the town was out searching the forest to the north. The station's receptionist told me I could wait--Chief Bill Vickery would be returning for lunch soon. The waiting room had the false homey feel of a dentist's office; I sat in an orange endchair and flipped through a Redbook.

Bookclub Guide

US1. Soon after arriving in Wind Gap, Camille reflects, “Curry was wrong: Being an insider was more distracting than useful.” What exactly was Curry wrong about? What advantages did he think Camille’s “insider” status would bring with it? Was he, ultimately, wrong?2. After ten years of abstinence, what is it that motivates Camille’s promiscuity during her return to Wind Gap? What do you make of her choice of partners—both relative outsiders in the town?3. Does Camille deliberately sabotage her relationship with Richard? Could they have made a good couple?4. Driving through Wind Gap, Camille describes the character of each distinct section of town, including its architecture: often poorly executed renovations and new construction. What do you make of her critiques? How are their homes symbolic of the people of Wind Gap?5. Does Amma feel real affection for Camille? What are her motivations for getting closer to Camille?6. What similarities do you see between Camille and Amma? What similarities do you think Camille sees?7. Why is Amma so obsessed with her dollhouse? What significance does it hold for her?8. Camille is addicted to “cutting,” a form of self-harm. Why do you think she specifically cuts words into her skin?9. Camille is shocked when her suspicions about Marian’s illnesses are confirmed. Do you think she believes Adora deliberately killed Marian? Do you believe Marian’s death was intentional?10. Is there goodness in Adora? Are there any moments when she seems to you more human, or more kind?11. How would you describe Alan—a man who, as Camille says, never sweats—living among so much anxiety? Do you see this type of contrast—between cleanliness and filth, order and disorder—elsewhere in the book?12. The story about cutting off her own hair before school-picture day is attributed both to Ann and to Camille. Why do you think the author makes this connection?13. Discuss the role of substance abuse in the book. How does it define the characters, their behavior, and the town of Wind Gap? How does it contribute to the telling of the story, as the focus—and the substances themselves—intensify during the course of the book?14. Discuss the theme of violence throughout the book, including animal slaughter, sexual assault, cutting, biting, and, of course, murder. What do you make of the way residents of Wind Gap respond to violence?15. “A ring of perfect skin.” One on Camille’s back, another on her mother’s wrist. What significance does this have? How alike are Camille and her mother? In what crucial ways are they different?16. Why does Camille allow herself to be poisoned by Adora?17. In describing her crimes, Amma recalls happy, “wild” times with Ann and Natalie. Why isn’t Amma able to keep these girls as friends? Do their violent undercurrents doom these friendships to fail, or could they have been overcome?18. As a reporter, Camille often has to distinguish between original quotes and quotes that are influenced by “true crime” dramas. What is the author saying about our society and our exposure to crime stories? Are the police working the case also guilty of this pop-culture shorthand?19. At the end of the book, Camille isn’t certain of her answer to one key question: “Was I good at caring for Amma because of kindness? Or did I like caring for Amma because I have Adora’s sickness?” What is your opinion?20. How important do you think the outward appearance of the people in Sharp Objects is to their personalities? Ugliness and beauty are themes throughout the book, but are they the key themes? Or do the characters rise above the visual?

Editorial Reviews

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction...Flynn's book goes deeper than your average thriller. It has all the narrative drive of a serious pop novel and much of the psychological complexity of a mainstream character study. All in all, a terrific debut.”—Alan Cheuse, The Chicago Tribune“A compulsively readable psychological thriller that marks [a] dazzling debut...[Flynn] has written a clever crime story with astonishing twists and turns, and enough suspense for the most demanding fans of the genre. But it is the sensitive yet disturbing depiction of her heroine that makes this an especially engrossing story...Flynn's empathic understanding of her major characters leads to storytelling that is sure and true, and it marks her a write to watch.”—Chicago Sun-Times“To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild. I haven't read such a relentlessly creepy family saga since John Farris's All Heads Turn as the Hunt Goes By, and that was thirty years ago, give or take. Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights.”—Stephen King “Not often enough, I come across a first novel so superb that it seems to have been written by an experienced author, perhaps with 20 earlier books to his or her credit. I'm extremely excited to discover my first debut blowout this year, a sad, horrifying book called Sharp Objects...[Flynn] is the real deal. Her story, writing and the characters will worm their way uncomfortably beneath your skin...But this is more literary novel than simple mystery, written with anguish and lyricism. It will be short-listed for one or more important awards at the end of the year...Sharp Objects is a 2006 favorite so far. I doubt I'll ever forget it.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer“A deeply creepy exploration of small-town Midwestern values and boasts one of the most deliciously dysfunctional families to come along in a while...[Flynn] handles the narrative with confidence and a surprisingly high level of skill...Wind Gap ends up the sort of place you'd never want to visit. But with Sharp Objects, you're in no hurry to leave.”—San Francisco Chronicle “Brilliant...Powerful, mesmerizing...A stunning, powerful debut from someone who truly has something to say.”—San Jose Mercury News “One of the best and most disturbing books I have read in a long time...Flynn never stoops to the gratuitous, and the torment produces haunting characters that hung around my imagination long after I had finished the book. Her skillful blending of old tragedies with new culminated in an 'oh-my-gosh' moment that I never saw coming. This book simply blew me away.”—Kansas City Star “Don't look here for the unrelenting self-deprecation and the moping over men common chick lit...I promise you'll be thoroughly unnerved at the end.”—Newsweek “First-time novelist Flynn is a natural-born thriller.”—People Style Watch “A witty, stylish, and compelling debut. A real winner.”—Harlan Coben “Flynn delivers a great whodunit, replete with hinting details, telling dialogue, dissembling clues. Better yet, she offers appalling, heartbreaking insight into the darkness of her women's lives: the Stepford polish of desperate housewives, the backstabbing viciousness of drug-gobbling, sex-for-favors Mean Girls, the simmering rage bound to boil over. Piercingly effective and genuinely terrifying.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “Fans of psychological thrillers will welcome narrator/Chicago Daily Post reporter Camille Preaker with open arms...As first-time novelist Flynn expertly divulges in this tale reminiscent of the works of Shirley Jackson, there is much more to discover about Wind Gap and, most of all, about Camille.”—Library Journal “This impressive debut novel is fueled by stylish writing and compelling portraits...In a particularly seductive narrative style, Flynn adopts the cynical, knowing patter of a weary reporter, but it is her portraits of the town's backstabbing, social-climbing, bored, and bitchy females that provoke her sharpest and most entertaining writing. A stylish turn on dark crimes and even darker psyches.”—Booklist “[A] chilling debut thriller...[Flynn] writes fluidly of smalltown America.”—Publishers Weekly“[Flynn]] offers up a literary thriller that's a doozy...and she does it with wit and grit, a sort of Hitchcock visits Stephen King, with plenty of the former's offstage and often only implied violence, and the latter's sense of pacing and facility with dialogue...This is not a comfortable novel of touchy-feely family fun. Rather, it is a tough tale told with remarkable clarity and dexterity, particularly for a first-time author.”—Denver Post“A tense, irresistable thriller...Flynn's first-person narration is pitch-perfect, but even more impressive is the way she orchestrates the slim novel's onrushing tension toward a heart-stopping climax.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer“Darkly original...Flynn expertly ratchets up the suspense...A disturbing yet riveting tale.”—People“Skillful and disturbing...Flynn writes so well. Sometimes she dips her pen in acid, sometimes she is lyrical, but always she chooses her words deftly...She has an unsparing eye for human imperfection and for the evil that moves among us.”—Washington Post“Using understated, almost stark prose, Flynn paints a jagged, unflinching portrait of the vise-like psychological bonds between women, and how their demons lead to the perpetuation of cruelties upon themselves and others. The end result is an unsettling portrait of how long emotional wounds can last- and how deeply they hurt.”—Baltimore Sun“More in the tradition of Joyce Carol Oates than Agatha Christie, this one will leave readers profoundly disturbed. But from the first know you're in the hands of a talented and accomplished writer.”—The Boston Globe“[A] breathtaking debut...Written with multiple twists and turns, Sharp Objects is a work of psychological prowess and page-turning thrills.”—Richmond Times“As suspenseful as the V.C. Andrews books you shared in high school, but much smarter.”—Glamour“Sharp Objects is one of the freshest debut thrillers to come around in a long while. It's a gripping, substantive story, stripped of cliche, and crafted with great style. The characters are refreshingly real, burdened with psychological issues that enrich the story. And the ending, which I was positive I could predict, is unpredictable. Sharp Objects is, indeed, quite sharp.”—Augusten Burroughs“Sharp, clean, exciting writing that grabs you from the first page. A real pleasure.”—Kate Atkinson, author of Case Histories and One Good Turn