Things you won't find in a Gillian Flynn novel:
1. Reliable narrators
2. Well-adjusted human beings
3. Unicorns and rainbows (metaphorically speaking)
Flynn's books aren't so much about the mysteries the plots build around as they are portraits of the darker side of humanity and reminders of how close that darkness is to the surface. She's not really doing anything original. She's taking her tropes out of the same bucket as everyone else, but she's using them so expertly that she avoids annoying cliche territory. They're the kind of books that aren't ruined in the least if you guess the twist or the killer early on because they're not about catching the bad guys.
This book had the misfortune to be so overly hyped that it couldn't possibly live up to expectation. It's also impossible to review in depth without major spoilers, so I'll just say it was good, but it wasn't the mind[bleep] I'd been promised.
My rating = 3 stars
Despite eliciting a pretty intense visceral reaction in me in the first few chapters, this book was the most disappointing of the three. Seemingly random details thrown out early on turn out to be pivotally important later in what felt like a horribly contrived denouement. Also, the slow piecing together of the day of the murders via flashback chapters was sometimes so boring I had to skim or risk losing interest.
My rating = 2 stars
This one crammed half the small-town tropes and damaged people tropes ever invented into one morbidly fascinating novel. I guessed pretty quickly who killed whom and why, and then I kept reading with even more interest because the gradual unraveling of Camille's whole world was so gut-wrenching I couldn't look away. This was by far my favorite of the collection.
My rating = 4 stars
At this point, I will probably buy and read anything Flynn writes. She impressed me, she disappointed me, and she wowed me (in that order), and the whole time she made me think. I can't wait to see what she does next.