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James S.A. Corey
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The Shining Girls

Gone Girl: A Novel

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn Gillian Flynn hands you a little black box. "What's this?" you ask. "Just open it," she says, twitching an eyebrow at you. Just a tiny movement, a gentle follicular nudge. "Is this a puzzle box?" you ask, wary. "I keep seeing people playing with ones just like it on the train. There is a huge stack of them at Target. These aren't really my thing.""I know, but this is a really tricky one," she says. "I want to see if you can figure it out."Now it's a challenge. She has challenged you. Your ego is on the line. You open the box.And holy crap, how did she manage to fit all this in here? Because yeah, it is a pretty standard box on the outside, and even once you open in up and start messing with it, sliding the pieces around and trying to fit them into place. Oh, it's well done. Intricately carved, ornately detailed, with little embellishments that earn a wry smile, a chuckle, a grunt of admiration. But still. You can see the solution, just out of reach, but you suspect you'll have it soon.And suddenly, the last piece clicks home, and the box opens fully, revealing an wickedly clever design that you weren't even looking for. You went in overconfident, sure you had the solution clear in your mind, sure you were smarter than the box, smarter than its creator. But that's just what she wanted you to think."Nicely done," you say, trying to give it back to her. "Really. Nicely done.""Oh no," she says, shoving it back into your hands. "You aren't done yet. The really tricky part is figuring out how to put it back together. You're going to like this part best of all."And you do. But you also can't help but notice Gillian Flynn is standing behind you the entire time. Peering over your shoulder. Making soft little satisfied sounds as she watches you muddle about with each step in the reconstruction. You can practically hear her smirking each time you make a little bit of progress. Good lord, she is all but poking you in the side as you finally fit the last few pieces into place and what lies before you on the table is, once again, a box. Only now you know what's inside, how all the tiny pieces have been sanded and molded and shaped just so, fitting together so perfectly. The box is, you have to admit, a damned impressive piece of engineering."You can keep that if you like," she says. Smug grin again.Probably, you are never going to open it again. You've already solved it. But you can think of about 10 people you want to give it to, to watch them try to puzzle it out too. To put them through the same brain-teasing torture."That's fine too," Gillian Flynn says. "I didn't really design it to be solved more than once.""Yeah, no," you agree. "But again: really nice job. Top-shelf craftsmanship."You sit for a few minutes, staring at her, staring at the box."So, um... do you have any more of these? Different ones?""Actually..." And now her smirk has spread to her eyes, because she has you now. She has you, and she knows it, and she's already reaching both hands behind her back, itching for the reveal."I have two."