Study Guide

Dark Places Justice and Judgment

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Justice and Judgment

My mom, two older sisters, all butchered by Ben. The only one left, I'd fingered him as the murderer. I was the cutie-pie who brought my Devil worshiping brother to justice. (1.14)

This quote does a good job of explaining why someone coached Libby to give a false testimony. Who wouldn't believe a seven-year-old survivor? And since the prosecutors thought Ben did it, they feel like justice was served.

"There are some fans… experts, who know more than the detectives on the case. Not that that's hard." (1.109)

A recurring theme in mysteries and crime novels is fact that the general public wants to bring the true killer to justice after the justice system itself has totally failed at it. Dark Places fits this mold.

"Not fighting doesn't mean he's guilty, Libby." (3.140)

It seems that "innocent until proven guilty" didn't apply in Ben's case. In the eyes of the court, Ben was guilty and failed to prove himself innocent.

I reminded myself that Ben was guilty (had to be had to be) (3.166)

Justice is for the living. Figuring out who committed the crime won't bring any of the victims back, but it might provide solace to Libby and to the weirdoes who aren't related to her but are insanely invested in the case.

"I assume you've officially recanted your testimony? I'd think that'd be a huge help." (5.46)

Even though the public believes Libby's testimony was coached, in order to help Ben get out of jail, she has to go through the official process of recanting it. Justice has to be made official.

Was I really going to go talk to people who might have killed my family? Was I really going to try to solve something? (6.51)

Right here is the turning point for Libby, the point at which she decides to find the actual killer and bring him or her to justice.

Ben didn't help himself either: He had no alibi for the murders; he had a key to the house, which had not been broken into; he'd had a fight with my mother that morning. Also he was kind of a s***. (8.9)

You can't be convicted for being a s***. Or can you? It seems Ben's bad attitude, rather than any actual evidence, is what got him thrown in jail. Was that fair?

"You need to right your wrongs, just like anybody else. And I'm real sorry for the loss of your family, and I'm real sorry for what you've gone through, but now you need to be a grown-up and fix it." (16.56)

Libby was just as much a victim as anyone else. Her family died. She was deceived into giving false testimony. But it's also almost like a superhero origin story. She has to take it upon herself to solve the case once and for all.

So maybe Ben was crazy all by his lonesome. Or maybe he was innocent. (20.6)

It's always in the back of Libby's mind that she might discover Ben is guilty, after all. Maybe she would be fine with that—as long as she gets paid. It seems like people will pay her if they think justice has been served.

"He wanted to believe I was molested." (20.62)

Krissi, like Libby, was pressured into giving a false testimony. It seems that in the '80s, justice merely consisted of getting a conviction, no matter who was convicted. Is the justice system still like this today?

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