ANDREW FFRENCH enjoys the twists in this thriller which is set to be made into a film


YOU could say Gone Girl, our selection for Book of the Month in March, has more or less picked itself.

For Gillian Flynn’s thriller, her third novel, is already a publishing sensation in the United States.

The unnerving tale of a wife who goes missing was first published last year and came 12th in Amazon’s bestseller chart.

The cleverly told suspense thriller has just come out in paperback in the UK after already selling about two million copies and actress Reese Witherspoon is planning to make the movie.

But what makes Gone Girl so special?

Flynn hits upon a winning structure for her story, which is told from the point of view of husband and wife Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne.

When Amy disappears on the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary, Nick inevitably becomes a suspect, and the story is told by each of the Dunnes in alternating chapters.

At first, everything seems rosy in their relationship and the two writers, who work in New York, appear to be enjoying their lives together.

But then the recession hits and they are forced to move out to Missouri, where Nick grew up with his twin sister Margo.

Nick borrows money from his wife to fulfil his childhood dream of running a bar with Margo, but there appears to be very little for Amy to do to occupy her time.

About two years after the move to Missouri, Amy disappears in mysterious circumstances.

There are signs of a disturbance at the apartment where they live and a glass coffee table has been shattered.

But Amy has gone without saying goodbye and no-one is sure if she has been taken or if she has just walked out.

From here on in, Nick and Amy take it in turns to tell their story, but the reader is never quite sure which of them is the reliable narrator, or indeed if both of them are telling lies.

This uncertainty cranks up the tension.

Nick seems like a nice guy, if a little lazy, while Amy at first resembles a pleasant, cheerful and dutiful wife.

But as the story unfolds, each partner delivers more and more home truths.

Flynn has chosen a slightly tricky structure for her novel, and there were times when I needed to think twice about the timeframe for certain scenes, but she makes it work, and sets up a gripping story for the reader, containing numerous clever plot twists.

Gone Girl is not exactly a page-turner as such because Flynn’s writing style is quite dense and detailed, but this allows the reader to get inside the minds of Mr and Mrs Flynn, before and after they separate.

It's a satisfying read, and the chilling unravelling of a relationship gone bad is perfectly suited to our current cold climate.



GILLIAN Flynn is a former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly and lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

In 2006, she won a two-book deal and wrote her first novel, Sharp Objects, which won two Crime Writers’ Association awards and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger award. Her second, Dark Places, also won critical acclaim.

In 2008, the writer stopped working as a journalist to concentrate on fiction.

Among topics she wrote about for magazines was movies, including the film version of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and she wrote her first novel during evenings and weekends.

Flynn has been paid about $1.5m for the film rights to Gone Girl and has been asked to write the screenplay. A reader poll in one newspaper in the United States suggested Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling should play the leads. And Dark Places could also be adapted for a movie, with Charlize Theron.
The author’s three novels have now been published in 28 countries.

Gone Girl is published by Phoenix, an Orion Books imprint
priced at £7.99