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Reviewsday: 'Gone Girl' masters manipulation

"Gone Girl," by Gillian Flynn, is the disturbing story of two disturbed characters, creator and player in a story of their own making. For the reader, it's a psychological drama and page-turner, one that will keep you alternately feeling sympathy and disgust for the characters, all the while intrigued and mystified by their actions.

The story features Nick and Amy Dunne, two displaced Manhattanites who have relocated to Nick's hometown. Nick's mom is critically ill and his dad suffers from Alzheimer's. Nick and Amy return to Carthage, Missouri, to help Nick's twin sister Margo care for his parents. Because they are both out of work, Nick borrows money from Amy's trust fund to partner with Margo and buy a local bar. Amy is the daughter of a writers, the authors of the "Amazing Amy" series for which she is the namesake, which amplifies the spotlight on her sudden disappearance.

The book is written in the alternating voices by chapter of Nick and Amy. Amy's chapters are her diary entries, and Nick's are equally straightforward and compelling versions of his reactions to events as they unfold. He tells us, for instance, how many times he has now lied to police, which is the reader's first inkling that things may not be as they seem. When Amy disappears in what appears to be a violent kidnapping, Nick is identified as a person of interest in the investigation.

As the novel progresses, we learn that Amy has manipulated the reader as she has others in her life. Her history of deceit is long and complex, and includes harm to herself and others. While one might be tempted to feel sorry for Nick, it's clear he has trapped himself in Amy's story. And, he may be the only one who knows Amy well enough to know what she is capable of.

"Gone Girl" was published in 2012 by Random House.