Stacy Willingham | A Flicker in the Dark

The Book: 

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
Published January 11th 2022 by Minotaur Books
Date read: December 30, 2021

The Characters: 


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

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?

Click here for book spoilers for A Flicker in the Dark
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read A Flicker in the Dark, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist: 

It was Aaron, the reporter, killing the girls in present day. He was a boy from Chloe’s hometown, the one who was stalking Chloe’s house after her father’s arrest.

He kidnapped Chloe’s friend’s daughter Riley and was keeping her in Chloe’s old house. Chloe shot him when she realized what had happened.

Later, she confronts Daniel about why he has his dead sister’s ring. Daniel had helped his sister escape their abusive father–he didn’t kill her. He also knew that Chloe’s brother Cooper had been the one who killed the girls in the past, their father taking the fall. Cooper had been trying to set Daniel up by making Aaron kill the girls. 

The Ending:

Chloe got Cooper to confess on the security camera with the detective listening. She drugged him so that he couldn’t hurt her, but it’s unclear if he died or just passed out and went to prison. Her dad was released, but she was still mad at him for lying. She and Daniel broke up, not sure why.

Spoiler Thoughts:

I suspected Daniel throughout the first few chapters, but as soon as Chloe began to I changed my mind. It was too early in the book for it to be him–turns out I fell for the red herring! Although I considered Cooper as a suspect since he was the only one around both in the past and present besides the invalid mother, I thought that answer was too obvious. I didn’t suspect Aaron, and thought that twist was more surprising. I’m glad it wasn’t the sort of book that “surprises” the reader with a culprit that isn’t even a character we know, though.

Honestly, when Riley was taken I had no idea who she was. It wasn’t until my sister started the book and mentioned that she has the same name as our also social-media-obsessed cousin that I remembered that she had been mentioned before she was taken. When I realized who she was, her introduction seemed somewhat forced. Why was a teen at an adult’s engagement party? (She was grounded per the reasoning in the book, but I’d get my grounded teen a babysitter, not bring her to an engagement party). I feel like I would’ve cared a lot more about Riley and her mom if they played a bigger part in the storyline before she was taken.

The Review: 

Thank you to the publisher for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Any book blurbed by Karin Slaughter is one I definitely have to pick up! While A Flicker In The Dark is a lot less graphic and gory than Karin’s writing, I really enjoyed the story. Certainly an impressive debut that you won’t want to miss!

Although I’m not sure if this counts as “a twist you’ll never see coming” per the blurb, I thought this book was very well written. The pacing was excellent. I flew through the last 2/3rds of it on the plane to Hawaii, and it was a great way to pass the time. I passed my ARC copy on to my sister when I arrived!

Chloe was an interesting character with a unique backstory as the daughter of a serial killer. She struggles with addiction, and is working on coming to terms with her complicated past. When history starts to repeat itself, all of Chloe’s progress is dashed. I enjoyed the first-person narrative as the reader is thrown right into Chloe’s jumbled thoughts. It was fun to unravel the case alongside her. I thought Chloe and her brother Cooper were very well-developed characters. 

If you’ve read A Flicker In The Dark, I’ll be posting a spoiler review on my blog where you can see what I thought of the twist. There’s a link in my stories as well as in the “spoiler discussions” highlight!

I’m excited to see what else this author puts out in the future.

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