4.5 star

Review: A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren’t really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

In a debut novel that has already been optioned for a limited series by actress Emma Stone and sold to a dozen countries around the world, Stacy Willingham has created an unforgettable character in a spellbinding thriller that will appeal equally to fans of Gillian Flynn and Karin Slaughter.

Four months into the new year but I’m still picking random books off the shelf, oops! However, this one was a good one and I’m glad to be sharing it all with you. It was a super tense and suspenseful thriller, despite the overall plot not being too too surprising. I still enjoyed it though, and hope you will too.

A Flicker in the Dark follows a woman, Chloe Davis, who is now a successful psychologist. However, she has a dark background, her father was charged and imprisoned for the abduction of teenaged girls over twenty years ago. The trauma of her childhood constantly haunts her though she tries to help others with their psychological problems. When suddenly another teenager goes missing, Chloe feels as if she’s falling back into her past, the trauma resurfacing where it was barely suppressed before. Do these abductions have anything to do with her? Or is she just being paranoid?

There weren’t too many characters in this book, so it read more like a closed-room scenario in that sense. However, the characters were all consistent with how they were created and perceived, and I didn’t feel that any of them really acted out of the ordinary. Very good consistency throughout, and they made a great backdrop of suspicious characters for our protagonist to work through.

The suspense was also pretty good. It was mostly along the lines of psychological suspense, and based on the limited perspectives of just our protagonist, we really got that first-person journey through the paranoia she was feeling. Even as a reader I had a hard time trusting what she felt to be reality (though this might just be suspicion as a mystery/thriller reader in general).

The build up was good and the suspense was kept throughout. I never really felt bored and so it was easy for me to race through it, though at points it did get a little bit more tense and scary. There were certain plot elements that were fairly predictable, but at least I wasn’t sure until the very very end, so even if it wasn’t out of left field or overall surprising, it was still good that I wasn’t 100% sure how it was going to end.

Overall the ending was pretty satisfying, and nicely tied up all the loose ends in my opinion. I would have awarded this the full five stars if I was just a little bit more surprised by the ending. It wasn’t bad at all though, and it wasn’t totally expected either. The author made sure to give us a few extra twists and turns near the end which I really enjoyed. If you don’t mind the plausibly predictable ending, I think you’d enjoy this one!

Overall Recommendations

A Flicker in the Dark is a story of childhood trauma resurfacing again. Chloe Davis, whose own father was convicted and imprisoned for abducting teenaged girls twenty years ago, is now reliving her past. Girls are going missing again, and it is unclear why it all seems to come back to Chloe. Or maybe she’s just paranoid? Find out in this exciting psychological thriller, full of suspense and mystery, and see what lies in store for Chloe!

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