A Review: “A Flicker in the Dark” by Stacy Willingham

A thriller from Book of the Month, I was excited to get this book since it captured a lot of attention online. Stacey Willingham’s debut novel, this thriller has an interesting plot centered around Chloe, a psychologist who just so happens to be the daughter of a convicted serial killer. Her father was arrested for killing six teenaged girls when Chloe herself was barely 12. Although their bodies were never found, what sealed her father’s fate was Chloe’s discovery of a box full of jewelry from the missing girls’ in her parents’ closet.

Here is the book’s description:

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.

My Verdict: “A Flicker in the Dark” is Worth Reading

I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings about this book. It was definitely not the best thriller I had ever read. There were too many cliches. The self-medicated, mentally unstable psychologist is so overdone! I mean, seriously! Additionally, I felt like this book needed more editing. I found some things not believable and a few inconsistencies. For example, during a flashback scene, Chloe says she is studying psychology and is getting her PhD, and plans to get her master’s next. In the US, you cannot get a PhD without first having a master’s degree. I also was not a fan of Willingham’s writing style. Her descriptions of setting and characters were overdone. She uses a lot of similes and metaphors that are so long-winded, I had to reread sentences to understand what was actually happening. Not to mention, narrator Chloe seemed to know other characters’ thoughts and feelings. You could say she was psychoanalyzing them, but if that is the case, it did not come across clearly in my opinion.

However, writing style aside, what saved this book was the ending. The last quarter of the book was action-packed and kept me reading. There were a couple twists, too, which I enjoyed. Up until that point, I thought the book was fairly boring. I couldn’t sympathize with Chloe and mostly was reading just to finish it. Although I ultimately did not like who the “new” killer turned out to be, it made sense for the story. I also felt Willingham tied up loose ends nicely and left readers content with a satisfying ending.

You might like this book if you enjoyed reading “The Book of Cold Cases” by Simone St. James, “The Shadow House” by Anna Downes, or “The Resting Place” by Camilla Sten.

If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought of it! I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks so much for reading!

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