Even though this is Flynn's first novel, I actually would classify it as my favorite even if Gone, Girl is the one that everyone is currently talking about. The novel is narrated by reporter Camille Preaker who has just recently been released from a psych hospital. She and her boss have a close relationship, a type of father-daughter bond, but her boss still takes advantage of her ties to a small town in Missouri to get a scoop on a story. Her relationship with her mother is strained at best, her mother coming off as a rich socialite overly concerned with appearances that is also a hypochondriac. Camille's younger half sister is the same age as the young girl that was murdered, and the one that is currently missing. Both the dead and the missing girl are described as being rather willful and defiant, troublemakers. One girl's father is actually surprised that his daughter was taken rather than her sister, the more conventionally pretty one. Police suspect an out of towner, but Camille has different ideas.
As she interviews her former neighbors, Camille is haunted by memories of her childhood and her dead sister. Camille is a cutter and the only uncarved space remaining is the small of her back. Flynn has no problem creating protagonists that are flawed, make bad decisions and are even possibly off-putting in ways. Camille hides the history on her body, afraid of the judgement and disgust she might find in response. While Flynn develops a twisty mystery, it is also very much a psychological study. She hints at things early in the book, and I'm not quite sure if she was leaving clues that readers could refer back to later, or if she expected the reader to realize things much sooner than Camille because we had a certain amount of distance from the situation. Overall, definitely worth a read and better than the average thriller/murder mystery.