A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Twenty years ago, Chloe’s father was imprisoned for killing six teenage girls in their town. Now, as a psychologist, she has only begun to gain a semblance of control over her life.

Copyright © 2022 Meera Nair

But the horrors of the past are far from over. When two girls go missing in the span of days, each with an obscure connection to Chloe, she is determined to act before it’s too late.

I like it when stories are narrated through alternating chapters – either from different character perspectives or of varying timelines.

Here, the chapters are made of two timelines – the past and the present – adding to our understanding of how Chloe feels about her father’s arrest and the guilt she suffers from for believing that she is somehow responsible for the deaths of some of those girls.

Initially, there were several statements that she would make, which I began to read into, and I was certain who the new serial killer must be. These statements seemed too “by chance” to be just meaningless utterances.

But I was wrong!

Of late, I’ve been reading quite a few murder mysteries where there’s sufficient evidence or motivation linking one character to the crime. But the revelation just upends everything you’ve come to understand about the primary characters and somehow places the blame on the one character who:

  1. Is least involved in the story or
  2. Has no connection to what has transpired
  3. Makes for a convenient villain
  4. Isn’t suspected by anyone in the story and isn’t portrayed to the reader as a potential culprit

It’s wonderful when an author can take you by surprise… especially in the case of a mystery novel. But I wasn’t satisfied with the way this novel concludes.

Apart from the plot itself, another aspect of the book that made me pick it up is Chloe being a psychologist.

But I soon learned just how she uses her job to her advantage. For starters, she indulges in quite a bit of substance abuse to manage her anxiety.

If you enjoy reading books where the protagonist becomes a sleuth of sorts and tries to take matters into their own hands, you might enjoy this one. Although I can understand why Chloe would intervene, she just ends up doing more harm that way.

Most of the other characters play problematic roles in some way. I wished that Chloe had better people around her.

In varying levels of detail, the story includes infidelity, trauma, self-harm, domestic abuse, and substance abuse.

I still had a couple of unanswered questions by the end which, combined with who the murdered turned out to be, made the reading experience so-so.

On the whole, I didn’t like reading A Flicker in the Dark as much as I was hoping to.

Published by Meera Nair

A 27 year-old freelance Content Writer, who spends all her free time ensconced in the pages of a book or writing to her heart's content about topics that excite the creative spirit in her.

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