Stacy Willingham ~ A Flicker in the Dark
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?
The thriller genre is extremely popular and it’s now almost impossible to create a story with twists that readers won’t be able to guess. It seems to be a trend to suddenly throw extra twists in at the end to confuse the reader and try to make them stumble. This may be effective, but they’re often unfounded and unbelievable.
A Flicker in the Dark is quite a unique plot, looking at the life of the serial killer’s daughter and how her life has panned out. There seems very little stigma attached to her and her life is relatively normal. As we read on we see the role she played in her father’s conviction and what that meant for her parents.
Although it is almost immediately obvious who was actually responsible for the girls’ deaths back then, which is disappointing, the real brilliance of this book is the writing. Readers are drawn into Chloe’s story and how she feels about the past and the current events. There is also suspense and a permanent sense of foreboding, as we feel Chloe’s distrust… and misguided trust of the other characters.
With a dual timeline, we see the events through her eyes then and now; this is useful, but it’s not always clear where we are as Chloe enters her memory at random moments in the present, so readers have to double check the time. The final few twists and sub-plots are clumsy and rushed; while they may make people question their original guess for a few moments, there are little tells in the characters’ actions that reveal themselves too early.
Despite being slightly disappointed with the book as a whole, the book has hidden depths. Characters are well-written and interesting; Chloe’s mum’s struggle following her husband’s arrest is particularly poignant and adds an extra layer to the story. Considering this is a debut, it’s a great start and no doubt Willingham will gain confidence with her next book.
I received a copy from Insta Book Tours. Opinions my own.
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