Like its contemporary Girl on a Train, Gone Girl is part of a supposedly new genre of ‘psychological thriller.’
It tells the story of a couple who start off happy but end up with disappearances, accusations and murder. It alternates between each of their stories – Amy a rich New Yorker, Nick from parochial Missouri. Both out of work, they move back to Nick’s Missouri hometown and their relationship unwinds.
We see his chauvinistic tendencies first and then her controlling insecurities. The story twists and twists some more until the bizarre, if slightly far fetched truth, emerges. The end is strong in its ambiguity, revealing one of them as a dangerous murderer; yet they stay together because they need one another, despite everything.
Whether the label of psychological thriller describes anything new or not I don’t know – probably not – but Gone Girl, like Girl on a Train, works. What they in common is alternating first person narratives from unreliable narrators that gradually reveal what has happened. And what they both share, too, is a sophisticated understanding of our inner-minds that goes beyond the average crime fiction novel. Girl on a Train’s particular insight is into alcoholism and the psychology of being alone. Gone Girl’s is into relationships, what we know and don’t know about people we are close to, and how we can choose something because we need it, even if it is no good for us.
A strong novel worthy of it’s acclaim.