Review: A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Summary: 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 put in prison. Chloe and 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. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels that aren’t really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

Genre: thriller, mystery
Rating: ★★★★

A Flicker in the Dark is a stunning debut novel that packs all the punches of the thriller genre without becoming a cliché story full of ridiculous tropes. I was immediately sucked into this story and had a truly difficult time setting it down. I wanted to rush to the end to figure out what happened and solve the mystery.

I knew I’d love this story from the beginning, because it’s so unlike others in the thriller genre right now (and because I’m a sucker for shows with a similar premise, like Prodigal Son and Helstrom). Most stories about serial killers are told through the perspectives of investigators or the victims and their families, so it was refreshing as a whole to read the story through the eyes of the killer’s daughter.

The story is told mostly in present day with flashbacks strewn in. I loved the correlation between the two settings, with Chloe being brought back into situations that were so eerily like her childhood, even down to the phrasing of a question. Those scenes force the reader to question if Chloe is a reliable narrator. Is she still struggling with the trauma of her childhood, or is her past truly repeating itself?

This is a slow-moving story that dwells more so on the psychological aspect of the thriller, which is not necessarily for everyone. Personally, I loved watching Chloe question everything she came across, spiraling slowly as her fear and paranoia built.

My only reason for not giving this a full five-star rating is because I found it slightly predictable. The reader is almost forced to assume the killer is a certain person because it was thrown so heavily in our faces. However, I knew that was too easy of a plot, so I started guessing which other characters would be the killer. Because there are so few characters in the entire book (especially ones that could be the killer if we take our secondary characters like the detectives on the current case, etc.), it was easy to solve the mystery. However, I will say it still made for a thrilling ride, and the ending was still quite a surprise to me!

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