Author: Stacy Willingham
Publication: Minotaur, hardcover, January 2022
Setting: 21st century LouisianaDescription: 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 fiancé. 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!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.