Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Title: A Flicker in the Dark
Author: Stacy Willingham
Publication: Minotaur, hardcover, January 2022
Genre: Suspense
Setting: 21st century Louisiana
Description: Chloe rebuilt her life after the terrible time twenty years ago when her father was revealed to be a serial killer, which destroyed her family and caused her mother to fall apart. She has a young but thriving psychiatric practice, owns her own home, and has an attractive and attentive fiancĂ©. But when a female patient disappears after meeting with her and it becomes clear another serial killer is on the loose, Chloe knows it can’t be a coincidence. Should she tell the police about her background or try to investigate by herself? Desperate to escape the past, Chloe doesn’t know who she can trust and she certainly can’t sit in an office and counsel clients as if she is not affected.

My Impression: This is a fast-paced suspense debut thriller with a protagonist who elicits both sympathy and exasperation. Willingham creates a vivid sense of before, showing how much Chloe loved her father as a child - before she began to notice his suspicious behavior, and after when her family was blamed for his actions and shunned (or worse). Chloe has gone through a lot and, on the surface, seems to be in a good place but, inside, she is a mess. Even before the serial killer appears, she is self-medicating with illicitly acquired prescription drugs, running the risk of losing her license and certainly jeopardizing the support of this reader! Having a serial killer snatching his prey outside her very office destroys the balance Chloe has desperately sought and it’s no wonder even those close to her think she is losing her grip on reality.

Going it alone as a sleuth when a serial killer is involved never seems like a good idea and Chloe exhibits an irritating lack of common sense. On the other hand, this contributes to a nonstop roller coaster ride with plenty of potential villains, and it made my plane trip pass quickly. Willingham loses a few points for too many coincidences and I wondered how Chloe made it through college and graduate school with only an aunt for support and could still afford to buy a home at a relatively young age. Maybe LSU provided lots of financial aid before they spent all their money on Brian Kelly!
This is my twenty-seventh book in the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted at Carol's Notebook. We will likely hear more about A Flicker in the Dark as actress Emma Stone has bought the rights for an HBO series – I guess I can see it as a six episode-type series with flashbacks.

Source: Thank you to NetGalley and Minotaur for a gripping read.


Lark said...

Glad to hear you liked this one. It's one I want to read, too. :)

Josie Holford said...

That plot and the main character seem a bit over-the-the-top. But anything that helps a plane ride pass quickly has to have merit.

TracyK said...

I pretty much reject any novel about serial killers or any aspect of them. At least that cuts down on acceptable books, because I have too many other books I want to read. But, I am glad you enjoyed it and I can see it making a good miniseries.