Audiobook Review: A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (January 11, 2022)
Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Wow, this! This is the kind of rush I hope to get every time I pick up a psychological thriller! A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham is one of those books that are hard to put down, and it’s even more addictive when you’re listening to the audio.
Growing up, protagonist Chloe Davis and her older brother Cooper lived in a small town in Louisiana raised by two loving parents. So it was a shock to everyone when, the year she turned twelve, officers of the Breaux Bridge sheriff’s department showed up at the door to arrest her dad for the murders of six teenage girls who had gone missing in the months before, putting an end to that summer of terror. No one could have expected so much darkness to exist in such a kind and soft-spoken man, least of all his own daughter, but it was she who actually found the evidence that led to his capture and conviction. From then on, nothing was ever the same again. Chloe’s mother, who had been having an affair with the father of one of the victims, tried to take her own life shortly after the trial, unable to live with the grief and guilt. The failed attempt left her a broken woman, and her children were taken away to be raised by a relative.
Now an adult, Chloe works as a psychologist to help guide teen girls through the difficulties in their lives, and in a few weeks, she’ll also be getting married the perfect man. For the first time ever, Chloe feels she has finally found some semblance of normalcy and happiness, even if she still occasionally relies on medication (secretly prescribed under her fiancé’s name) to help her through any lingering trauma, and the fact that this summer is the twentieth anniversary of her father’s killings isn’t helping things.
But then, something awful happens that shatters her almost completely. A local teenage girl is murdered, and then another. Chloe can’t help but think of her father. While the man might still be behind bars, there’s the possibility of a copycat killer on the loose. A journalist, in town to interview Chloe for a piece about the Breaux Bridge murders, feels the same way. Together, they must team up and dive back into the past, working to connect the clues in time to uncover the killer’s identity before they can strike again.
In the interest of full transparency here, I confess I actually predicted a major aspect of the ending very early on, but the fact that I still had such a great time with this novel should tell you how amazing the writing is and how much I enjoyed the storytelling. Because yes, though I foresaw how certain things were going to play out, there were also plenty that I didn’t see coming, and a lot that made me second guess myself because this book was chock full of red herrings! There was also the added element of the unreliable narrator, as Chloe becomes increasingly dependent on her medications which begins affecting her cognitive and perceptive abilities.
The story also consumed me so completely that it’s hard to believe A Flicker in the Dark is a debut. Willingham might be a new author, but she certainly knows her stuff when it comes to thrillers, setting a flawless pace and letting the plot unfold masterfully. When it comes to the characters, Chloe herself isn’t the most admirable of protagonists, being ethically iffy and prone to act on impulse and do bad things. And yet, she’s easy enough to sympathize with, mainly because the author does such a great job with developing her background and character. Having a serial killer for a father would mess you up for sure, and to Chloe’s credit, at least she didn’t let herself fully succumb to her anger and despair, making it a point to bring some good back into the world.
Needless to say, I am going to be checking day after day for any news of Stacy Willingham’s next book. I sure hope I won’t have long to wait, because I am already craving more thrillers like A Flicker in the Dark. Also kudos to Karissa Vacker, the talented narrator for the audiobook. This one was truly a twisty, turny, heart-stopping read, one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend if you’re looking for a book you can’t put down or stop listening to.