Reporter Camille Preaker isn't likely to win a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon. While investigating the murder of teenage girls in her rural hometown of Wind Gap, Miss., she downs mini-bottles of vodka before interviews, exhibits the bedside manner of a coroner and requires daily pep talks from her editor at the St. Louis Chronicle. But as a modern-day antihero in HBO's eight-part miniseries "Sharp Objects," adapted from the Gillian Flynn novel, she's catnip.

Preaker, portrayed by the can-do-no-wrong Amy Adams, has a history of cutting herself and avoiding her mother (Patricia Clarkson), who behaves as if she just floated in from some Gothic mansion in Savannah.

As in HBO's drama series "Big Little Lies," the murder mystery is a red herring. (Both projects were directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.) The police investigators might as well stay home watching reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show." The real draw is trying to decipher why Preaker treads so carefully around her family, and drinks until she passes out behind the wheel of her car.

Adams, who has come a long way since doing "Brigadoon" at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, bolsters her reputation as the gutsiest actress of her generation. It's a wonder she hasn't yet won an Oscar. Maybe an Emmy will help ease the pain.

Neal Justin