Title: A Flicker in the Dark
Author: Stacy Willingham
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication date: 3rd Feb 2022
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Chloe Davis’ father is a serial killer.
He was convicted and jailed when she was twelve but the bodies of the girls were never found, seemingly lost in the surrounding Louisiana swamps. The case became notorious and Chloe’s family was destroyed.
His crimes stalk her like a shadow.
Now Chloe has rebuilt her life. She’s a respected psychologist in Baton Rouge and has a loving fiancé.
But she just can’t shake a tick-tick-tick of paranoia that, at any moment, it might all come crashing down.
As does something darker.
It is the anniversary of her father’s crimes, and Chloe is about to see her worst fears come true –
a girl she knows goes missing.
The nightmare has started again…
I was approved to read and review A Flicker in the Dark by HarperCollins via NetGalley. Many thanks for the approval and I hope you find my review satisfactory.
A Flicker in the Dark is Stacy Willingham’s debut novel. A Psychological Fiction novel centering on the life of Chloe Davis, the daughter of a convicted and jailed serial killer. Chloe has spent the subsequent years trying to piece her life together and has trained as a Psychologist. Everything is going relatively fine, or as fine as it can be considering her past when a series of girls start disappearing. Right on the anniversary of her father’s crimes.
There is an ease to A Flicker in the Darks writing style, a slow, ambling pace that leaves no stones unturned. There are details written about the lead characters, past and present, that run deep, adding a level of realism to a story that wouldn’t necessarily work. As the story progresses there is a level of paranoia that runs through Chloe that stretches the limits of imagination – while it’s understandable that she would blame those close to her for the new wave of deaths – it all comes across as a little incredulous and far-fetched.
As a lead character, getting into the head of Chloe is interesting. She has never felt free from the clutches of her father’s actions and when a new wave of murders follows the same patterns her intense sense of paranoia and desire to keep away inevitably pushes her towards the unfolding events. Key events that happened to Chloe as a child are presented in the form of flashbacks. They give details about what happened involving her family and the horrendous past thrust upon them by her father. Considering the tragic past and life that Chloe has had to endure, it made some of her actions in the present feel unbelievable – why would she trust a man that she had only recently met, yet accuse long-term people in her life of terrible things? Why would she withhold vital information from the police under the presence of history repeating? Not only this, but I found her over-reliance on anti-psychotics unrealistic; these drugs take a long time to work, you can’t just pop a pill and everything gets better.
Alongside Chloe are other characters, her fiance Daniel, the reporter she just met, and her supportive brother – each has their own part to play as the plot pans out and adds layers of complications to the investigation that Chloe undertakes.
There’s a fair amount of red herrings and deflections in this book that keeps the reader’s eyes off the real culprit behind the murders. These are well done and kept me guessing. Although, I was a little fed up with being side-tracked all the time and led down alleyways that didn’t really go anywhere. Chloe’s Mum is in residential living and in need of constant care. She finds a way to communicate with Chloe and at one point starts writing the name of her husband, or Chloes fiance. But, with the big reveal at the end being what it is a lot of this story arc makes little sense and brings up further questions of integrity to the plot.
While I enjoyed many elements of this book, the plot was interesting, the pacing was fairly sedate and easy to read and the character was engaging in her own way. It didn’t wow me. I didn’t feel an overwhelming urge to keep the pages turning. I didn’t feel connected enough with anyone to have any real desire to know who was the culprit and why. We spend so much time in Chloe’s head that it’s hard to feel any connection to something beyond her thoughts.
This one didn’t really work for me. A main-character, pill-popping psychologist, that happens to be the daughter of a serial killer. With an ambling, multi-layered plot that doesn’t fill in the loopholes as it progresses. It was an average read that used some pretty vivid descriptions throughout but had a few too many issues.