A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

My Five Word TL:DR Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this one


A Flicker in the Dark is a psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages into the dead of night looking for clues.  I loved this, it held me absolutely gripped, the premise is really good and the execution impressive, even more impressive when you consider this is a debut.  Let’s just say I will be eagerly awaiting this author’s next book.

So, why did I like the premise for this one.  Well, it takes a look at things from a slightly different angle than I’m used to but let me first set the scene.  Twenty years ago Chloe Davis, a young and impressionable 12 year old, was instrumental in the arrest and conviction of her seemingly mild mannered father for the murder of six young girls.  The impact on the family was terrible.  Chloe and her brother Cooper (Coop) were shunned and their mother, unable to live with the shame tried to take her own life.  Twenty years later Chloe and Coop have been able to move forward with their lives.  Chloe now lives in Baton Rouge, she managed to escape her childhood home and is a successful woman running her own psychology practice and about to marry the man of her dreams.  I don’t think I’ve read many books from the point of view of the serial killer’s family, or in this case, the daughter and this really intrigued me.

On the face of it Chloe is coping well but scratch the surface and she is in emotional turmoil, barely keeping her head above water and desperately trying to hold things together with the aid of illicit drugs so you can imagine the downward spiral she suffers when young girls from Baton Rouge start to go missing in a strangely similar style to the murders from her past.  Is a copycat on the loose?

The story pretty soon spirals.  Chloe manages to get herself involved in the investigation and subsequently discredited and there’s very much a feeling of her losing the plot and in fact becoming an unreliable narrator.  She makes some questionable decisions that leave you feeling flabbergasted and there’s this bewildering increase in tension as she jumps from one theory to the next.  I loved that the author kept me guessing.  I was jumping about wildly in much the same way Chloe was, which I admit may be down to the fact that I’m not a seasoned crime reader, but I found myself suspecting everyone at one point or another.  I did guess one of the plot points but I won’t give that away here.  No spoilers from me, nosirree.

I enjoyed the writing, I thought the pacing was excellent and I had no problem liking Chloe in fact I felt a little exasperated on her behalf at times (although, she did make some dodgy decisions not to mention was keeping a couple of skeletons in her closet that didn’t make her look good).  I really liked the way we flipped back and forth from the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ and I thought Willingham provided an impressive number of red herrings to lead me astray.

Basically, I don’t think there’s too much more I can add without walking the path of spoilers.  All I can say is that I really enjoyed this, it was totally gripping and I would have no hesitation in recommending it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.