Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy, seem to have what is the perfect marriage. Well, at a stage it was. Living in New York and perfect, things change when Nick loses his job, and Amy does, too. Their charmed life collapses, and when Nick’s sister Margo (“Go”), calls them to tell them that Nick’s mom Maureen is dying, he grabs at the opportunity as a lifeline. Telling his wife to pack up their unhappy little marriage, they move out to North Carthage, Missouri. Their lives continue there, Nick buys a bar with his sister Go with money borrowed from Amy. However, on the morning of their fifth anniversary, Amy disappears without a trace, wholly and completely. Nick receives a phone call from his neighbour saying that the cat is outside and the door open. This does not phase Nick until he arrives home to find the living room wrecked, Amy gone. He calls in the police and an investigation promptly begins, Nick (naturally, as the husband), being a person of interest. Amy’s disappearance is not right, and the timing is bad. Nick is left to start the treasure hunt that his wife has left behind, the one that she prepares annually to mark the year that has past.
The more the police look, the more things are not making sense, shedding a really bad light on Nick. As though things were not bad enough, matters are not helped by the fact that he seems somewhat aloof. Amy’s parents, Rand and Marybeth, arrive soon. The trio hover around together, Amy’s parents more upset than he is. Their whole life they have marketed Amy. She was their gift and they plagiarized her life to write their Amazing Amy books, which made a family fortune. Amy has always had strange people surround her, people that were not willing to let her go, and it seems that just one of those people have resurfaced and taken her. Marybeth insists that Nick get more involved with finding her daughter, and he agrees. He starts to call around to the old stalkers and menaces that Amy encountered growing up, though they are of no help. Nick has a problem, too, and her name is Andie. Andie is a young student of his (when he teaches journalism part time at the college), and they are involved in an illicit affair. Nick was ready to end everything with Amy for Andie, and now Amy is gone. All the while, Nick is trying to solve the clues left behind by his wife for their anniversary hunt. The more he uncovers, the more he falls in love with his wife again, though he was sure he could never feel that with her again.
Evidence starts to point more and more to Nick, and his lying and cheating are not helping the matter. Soon his infidelities will be unearthed, and the press has been jumping between loving and hating him. He knows that the news of Andie will be the nail in his coffin. The police start locking down on Nick when it is discovered that an awful lot of blood was spilled in the Dunne kitchen and quickly cleaned up, and that the ottoman in the lounge could not have been flipped in an argument, but intentionally. Nick is the number one suspect for the cops. Go is furious about finding out that Nick has been screwing around on his wife even though she is not a fan of Amy, but won’t say anything. At the end of Nick’s treasure hunt, he makes an absolutely awful discovery…
What will Nick do with what he has exposed along the way of his treasure hunt? What happened to Amy? Will she be found safely, or has something much more sinister happened to her? Is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? What will happen when all of Nick’s secrets are splashed out for the world to hear, to judge him on? What really happened throughout the course of their marriage?
I must admit that I was really not looking forward to reading this after disliking Sharp Objects so much, but Joseph and I put it on our book club list for February, so I got to it, long teeth and all. But I was surprised, it was not nearly as badly written or as silly as Sharp Objects. Granted, the characters are still not the most lovable, and are a little brusque at times, but overall it is not so fantastical. I liked how the story was told, one chapter from Nick’s perspective and then one from Amy’s and so on, and so forth. It gave a nice insight to how two people felt about the same situation, and how they continued to just miss each other in passing, wanting the same things yet neither articulating very well, both blaming the other for things and both wanting the same things, though assuming the other does not. Amy’s diary entries progress over time, so that you can see how her mindset has changed, how she feels about everything. Nick’s point of view is after the fact, and retracing a lot of the memories is also very interesting. I really liked how both Amy and Nick told their stories – both blaming the other, both playing the reader, and you wonder who is really who and what really happened, as the discrepancies are evident from the get go. The way the story changes, the setting, tone and emotion is also quite well done, though not wholly unexpected. I was not a fan of the totally abrupt ending, though I suppose for what it was it was what was needed.