Gillian Flynn’s Edgar Award-winning homage to the classic ghost story, published for the first time as a standalone A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it. “The Grownup,” which originally appeared as “What Do You Do?” in George R. R. Martin’s Rogues anthology, proves once again that Gillian Flynn is one of the world’s most original and skilled voices in fiction.
“I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.” So begins Gillian Flynn’s novella, The Grownup, and if you are anything like me that is all it takes to snag your attention for a good read. To date, this is the first and only book of hers that I have read, admittedly I am not much of fan of the mystery genre, but the suspense doled out in The Grownup kept me hooked for the entire sitting I spent reading it. The unnamed protagonist, which is a title to be used a bit loosely for her, has lived her life with an uncanny ability to read people and hustle them. When she meets a woman by the name of Susan Burke, she is working at a psychic/sex work parlor. Ladies, get your readings in the front, and gentlemen, we’ll see you in the back! Susan Burke needs help, and lots of it, which is understandable when you live in a supposedly haunted Victorian house. Our “psychic” sets out to assist this distraught woman, and make a legitimate name for herself in the process, but things are never as simple as they appear. Isn’t that always the case with hauntings?
Originally published under the name “What Do You Do?” in George RR Martin’s Rogues anthology, The Grownup delivers a suspenseful tale with plenty of twists and character development that will leave readers loving, loathing, and ultimately rooting for this “psychic” underdog.