Sharp Objects Summary

Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects

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Sharp Objects Summary

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Sharp Objects is a dark and suspense-filled psychological thriller. Published in 2006, Sharp Objects is the debut novel by Edgar award-winning and best-selling author Gillian Flynn. The literary mystery novel tells the story of reporter Camille Preaker. Camille returns to her hometown to investigate the disappearance of one girl and the murder of another.

Narrator Camille Preaker does not have happy memories of growing up in Wind Gap, Missouri. She hates her tiny hometown where pettiness runs rampant. She also did not have a happy family life growing up and is estranged from her family. Her sister Marian, her mother’s favorite, died at a young age from an illness when Camille was young. Her mother, Adora, comes from the wealthiest family in town. The family owns several businesses in the town and surrounding communities. She would fit right in in a Brothers Grimm story. She is self-centered, patronizing, and very strict. She was not a nurturing mother to Camille.

Adora now has a thirteen-year-old daughter, Amma. She spoils Amma and treats her like a doll. Camille’s half sister leads a double life. In front of her mother, Amma acts like both a young girl and the perfect Southern daughter. But in reality, she is a wild child who uses drugs, alcohol, and sex. As the town’s mean girl, Amma tries to rule everyone around her. She is a sarcastic and cynical girl with a temper. She entertains herself by humiliating others.

Her work forces Camille to return to Wind Gap and to reconnect with her family. She is a novice journalist at a second-rate daily newspaper in Chicago. She often covers crime stories. Her boss, Curry, assigns her a story about the murder of a young girl and disappearance of another. This story could be her big breakthrough story. Unfortunately, the cases took place in her Missouri hometown, a place to which Camille does not want to return. After initially refusing, Camille relents and takes the story.

Camille is an emotionally fragile and lonely woman who has just had a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital outside of Chicago. A return to her hometown is not in the best interest of her mental health. She was hospitalized because she has a long history of self-mutilation. She is a cutter who uses scissors to cut words into her skin. Her self-contained violence has put her on a continuous cycle of hurting, suffering, and healing. Her self-harm allows her to be both bully and sufferer or victim and victimizer.

Once Camille reluctantly returns to Wind Gap, she speaks to the police to learn more about the crimes. The police in a small town like Wind Gap are ill-equipped to solve the crimes, thus, they do not divulge much information. However, the local sheriff shares with Camille — off the record — that he believes the murder is most likely a native of the town. Camille also speaks to the family of the murdered girl, Ann Nash.

Shortly after, the remains of the missing girl, Natalie Keen, are found in an alley in the town. Both girls were victims of gruesome murders. The killer strangled and removed the teeth of both girls. Camille writes a story on both murders hoping to get out of Wind Gap as soon as possible, but Curry asks her to stay to further cover the murders.

While in Wind Gap, Camille begins a sexual relationship with Detective Richard Miller of Kansas City. Richard has been sent to determine whether the murders are the work of a serial killer. Camille hides her cutting scars by refusing to remove her clothes in front of him. She is afraid Richard will reject her.

Meanwhile, Camille and Amma begin to repair their relationship. At a party, they both drink too much and do drugs. When Camille awakens, Adora is taking care of her — but rather than actually caring for her, Adora has given her pills that make her even sicker. She learns from Amma that their mother does this to her on a regular basis.

Horrified, Camille begins to question the true cause of her sister Marian’s death. After contacting a nurse who cared for Marian, Camille confirms her suspicion. Her mother suffers from Münchausen syndrome by proxy and probably murdered Marian to gain attention or sympathy from others. It gets worse. Richard believes that Camille’s mother is the serial killer of Ann and Natalie. Camille returns to Adora’s house to continue her investigation. Adora poisons Camille and then bathes her to help heal her wounds. Camille passes out.

Camille is rescued when Richard comes to arrest her mother. Unfortunately, her relationship with Richard ends when he sees all her scars. Her scarred body is adorned with words like wicked, nasty, whore, and harmful.

Amma goes to live with Camille in Chicago after Adora is charged with murdering Marian, Ann, and Natalie. All seems well until one of Amma’s classmates at a girls’ school is murdered and found with six missing teeth. It turns out that while Adora did murder Marian, Amma murdered the two other girls out of jealousy.

Understandably, the emotionally distraught Camille reverts to cutting herself again. Curry and his wife take Camille in as their surrogate daughter to help her learn how to be cared for for the first time in her life.

Sharp Objects won two of Britain’s Dagger Awards and was the first book ever to win more than one Dagger in a year. Author Gillian Flynn’s subsequent novel Gone Girls was a runaway international hit that inspired a movie.