Sharp Objects

by

Gillian Flynn

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Detective Richard Willis Character Analysis

Detective Richard Willis is a detective from Kansas City who has been brought to Wind Gap to assist in the investigation of Ann and Natalie’s murders. Richard is on the brink of a big break in his career, and somewhat selfishly hopes that solving the case in Wind Gap will allow him to make bigger moves back home. As he and Camille bond over their “outsider” status—and the information they can give one another—an attraction forms between them, and soon they begin sleeping together. Camille likes Richard, but because of her scars is afraid to ever let him see all of her. When Camille sleeps with John Keene, Richard feels betrayed, and refuses to see her any longer; however, when Camille submits herself to Adora’s ministrations in order to ingest poison that can be used as evidence against her mother, Richard is among those who comes to save Camille and Amma and lock Adora away. As Richard glimpses Camille’s scars for the first time, seeing her in her mother’s bathtub, he is repulsed; after the case is closed, Camille doesn’t hear from him again, as she knew she wouldn’t the second she saw the way he reacted to her scars. Symbolically, this shows that Willis is committed to the truth, unlike Camille, only to a certain extent—as long as it is convenient and serves him.
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Detective Richard Willis Character Timeline in Sharp Objects

The timeline below shows where the character Detective Richard Willis appears in Sharp Objects. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
The detective, sensing Camille’s frustration, offers to start over. He introduces himself as Richard Willis and asks that they call a truce. Camille, though, continues asking him about why... (full context)
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Richard brings back their drinks and begins chatting Camille up, but she’s feeling somewhat exhausted and... (full context)
Chapter 5
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...of the clues and loose threads she’s encountered, Camille decides to head out and find Richard Willis, hoping that his rational outsider’s way of thinking about the murders will help calm... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille finds Richard at a diner, eating waffles and perusing a high stack of folders. He explains that... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Even though it’s not “the straightest of deals,” Camille accepts and asks Richard—on the record—whether he really believes Ann and Natalie’s murders were committed by an outsider. Richard... (full context)
Chapter 8
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
That evening, Camille meets with Richard Willis at a restaurant in town. Camille recognizes the waitress as one of her old... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Every place has its own “particular strain” of violence, Richard explains, and he wants to know whether Wind Gap’s is open or hidden, widespread or... (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Richard asks Camille about the next incident she remembers—she says that when she was in the... (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Richard points out that the pattern of violence against women in Wind Gap might be connected... (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille and Richard wind up in Garrett Park, swinging on the swingset. Richard mentions that a lot of... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Richard asks if Camille was close to her mother when she was young, and Camille says... (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
As Amma begins teasing Richard and Camille about whether or not they’re dating—and whether Richard has heard any of Camille’s... (full context)
Chapter 10
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
As Camille walks downtown to where Natalie’s body was found, Richard pulls up alongside her and asks if the euphemistic “source close to the police” in... (full context)
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Richard has Camille take him to a series of “secret places” around Wind Gap. In the... (full context)
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Camille and Richard continue exploring the woods for the rest of the afternoon, discussing Ann and Natalie’s murders.... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Richard drops Camille at home that evening. Her skin is buzzing—earlier, they “got each other off... (full context)
Chapter 11
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille calls Richard one evening, and though he picks up, he tells her he’s busy and asks to... (full context)
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Camille is three bourbons deep when Richard arrives at the bar to meet her, and when she sees him, she is so... (full context)
Chapter 12
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
The next morning, Camille goes over to where Richard is staying, in Wind Gap’s only apartment building. She brings a bottle of bourbon with... (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
Lying together in bed after sex, Richard and Camille continue discussing the case. Richard says he thinks John Keene is the murderer—he... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Camille wants to call Richard, but is unsure of what to tell him. As she drives through town, she finds... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...and John begin dressing frantically. When Camille opens the door, Vickery is there—and so is Richard. As he surveys the situation, he glares at Camille and tells her that Adora put... (full context)
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
...Camille drives back to Main Street and goes into the police station, where she finds Richard and begins attempting to “deny deny deny.” Richard, though, can see through her lies, and... (full context)
Chapter 15
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...asks Camille whether the “detective” is still on the case—she reveals, to Camille’s shock, that Richard Willis came by days ago and Xeroxed every single page of Marian’s files. The nurse... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
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Camille tracks Richard down at a local restaurant and confronts him with all she has learned without even... (full context)
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Camille’s story about the biting, Richard says, really focused things for him, and helped him to see that Adora might have... (full context)
Chapter 16
Toxic Mother-Daughter Relationships Theme Icon
Abuse, Victimization, and Control Theme Icon
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
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...Camille pulls herself out of the tub and wraps herself into a robe just as Richard Willis busts in through the door, asking Camille if she’s okay. As he stares at... (full context)
Epilogue
Rejecting Femininity  Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Disguises Theme Icon
...all along, and moved into Meredith’s place to “keep watch.” Camille doesn’t hear anything from Richard—she knew, from the way he looked at her body when he saw her scars, that... (full context)