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A Flicker in the Dark Review: Back-of-Book Description
A New York Times Bestseller
“A smart, edge-of-your-seat story with plot twists you’ll never see coming. Stacy Willingham’s debut will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.” ―Karin Slaughter
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.
Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren’t actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?
From debut author Stacy Willingham comes a masterfully done, lyrical thriller, certain to be the launch of an amazing career. A Flicker in the Dark is eerily compelling to the very last page.
A Flicker in the Dark Review: My Thoughts
I found this book in Book of the Month – it was an option back in December of 2021. It sounded like a good mystery thriller so I gave it a shot. I think I also saw some other people commenting about it online, too. I mean – it’s already a New York Times Bestseller and it’s her debut novel! Crazy.
This is actually why I decided to read it when I did – the BOTM app has a little challenge tracker thing, and it says I need to read 3 debuts before the end of 2022. Well… I hadn’t read any yet and neither had my friend. So we decided to pick one for our next read together and we both had A Flicker in the Dark on our shelves.
It started intriguing enough. I liked the idea of a family dealing with the aftermath of their serial killer father. And it stayed interesting when I started to realize that maybe he was innocent.
However, there were parts that got a little dull for me. It reminded me of a lot of other books in this genre – with a main character who drinks too much and thus finds herself easily confused and possibly manipulated (think Girl on The Train or The Wives). I think it could have been stronger if it didn’t put so much weight on that trope.
In addition to that small flaw (which other people might not think is a flaw at all), I also called the real killer pretty early on. I mean I did keep questioning my suspect a little, but still. I was right about who it ended up being. Still! I kept on reading to find out.
I also think that some of the choices the main character made were strange and unrealistic. Her straight-up refusal to go to the cops and try to figure things out herself – even in a flash-back part of the story where that ended badly. Like…why wouldn’t she have learned from her first mistake?
Anyways, I think the writing was maybe a bit flowery, but pretty enjoyable overall, especially for a debut. The author did a good job introducing fleshing out characters. For most of those characters, she wrote their emotions and actions really well.
The setting descriptions were terrific, and the dialogue flowed smoothly.
I will add that I think my friend liked it more than I did, so I might just be jaded on thrillers for now.
Favorite Quotes from A Flicker in the Dark
“…the image I project out into the world isn’t actually real, but carefully crafted…I am one small stumble away from shattering into a million pieces, revealing who I really am.”
“…my thoughts spill over, like an overpoured glass, staining the carpet.”
“Those early days of summer brought so much promise, it was like the red carpet of freedom was being rolled out beneath my feet, stretching so far into the distance it felt like it couldn’t possibly end.”
“There are so many subtle ways we women subconsciously protect ourselves throughout the day; protect ourselves from shadows, from unseen predators. From cautionary tales and urban legends. So subtle, in fact, that we hardly even realize we’re doing them.”
“When people get hurt physically, you can see it in the bruises and the scars, but when they’re hurt emotionally, mentally, it runs deeper than that. You can see every sleepless night in the reflection of their eyes; you can see every tear stained into their cheeks, every bout of anger etched into the creases in their foreheads.”
A Flicker in the Dark Review: In Conclusion
I’m having a hard time settling on a rating for this….3.5 stars I think. A Flicker in the Dark was mostly well-written and compelling. While some of the ending was easy for me to figure out, there were still plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. There was one bit about the end that felt disappointing – but I don’t want to give it away.
I definitely think I need a break from thrillers because I kind of felt myself getting bored…Like it was too similar to other books I’ve read. But if I hadn’t just read a different thriller, I think that might not have happened… hard to tell, though.
That being said, I would still totally recommend this book to people who enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and the like. I think if you are a fan of Lucy Foley (The Guest List) or Alice Feeney (Rock Paper Scissors), or similar authors, you would enjoy this one for sure.
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