Study Guide

Lyle Wirth in Dark Places

By Gillian Flynn

Lyle Wirth

What's Your Past Wirth?

Lyle Wirth is the leader of the Kill Club, a club fascinated with true crime. Libby says, "Lyle Wirth looked like a serial killer. Which meant he probably wasn't one" (1.84). A good observation.

Despite this unsettling description, Libby starts to like Lyle. He's nicer than most members of the Kill Club. He supports Libby even when challenging her. And he embezzles cash from the Kill Club, which makes Libby the klepto like him even more.

We're not gonna lie: Lyle basically exists to drive the plot forward. He pays Libby, he gives her ideas of where to go next, he offers a counterpoint to Libby's ideas about Ben being guilty (Lyle suggest that maybe Krissi Cates's father did it). There isn't much below the surface, though he does expresses a kinship with Libby when he tells her he's fascinated with children who caused "something to happen, something that got bigger than they were, something that had unintentionally major consequences" (12.9).

We later find out that Lyle himself is one of those children. When he was a boy, he pretty much burned down California. Oops. "It's hard to be that young and realize something like that," (28.58) he says about the wildfire he accidentally started that affected so many lives.

So maybe Lyle helping Libby is his own little way of atoning for his past. We're just glad these two remain friends and don't end up in a relationship just for the heck of it. They know where each other's boundaries are.

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