A Flicker in the Dark, by Stacy Willingham

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Stacy Willingham, and Macmillan Audio for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

In this debut thriller, Stacy Willingham makes a major impact on the genre, taking the reader down a twisted path of memories and revelations. Chloe Davis lost the innocence all children of twelve deserve when six girls disappeared and turned up dead and a police investigation revealed that Chloe’s father was responsible. Now, two decades later, a new batch of young girls go missing and their bodies appear around town, all with loose connections to Chloe. Is someone trying to dig up the past, or could this copycat simply be coincidental? All is revealed in this chilling thriller that is sure to make its mark.

A small town in Louisiana is rocked when six young girls go missing over one summer, their bodies turning up during the ensuing search. Chloe Davis, all of twelve, knew them, at least tangentially, and has to be concerned that she may be next. However, what’s worse is that by the end, Chloe’s father is arrested and charged with the murders based on evidence she discovers in the house. As the Davis family tries to pick up the pieces, Chloe must wrestle with the stigma of being related to a serial killer.

Two decades later, Chloe has established herself as a psychologist and enjoys a prosperous practice. She’s also about to be married, something that has her more excited than anything. Living in Baton Rouge, Chloe thinks that the past might finally be behind her, only to learn that a new set of girls has gone missing and their bodies are turning up. This has the makings of something sensational, though Chloe wants to steer well clear of the limelight.

When a nosy reporter emerges to write about the Davis family, things snowball from there and Chloe finds herself pulled into the web of emotional struggles she hoped would never resurface. Clues related to the girls begin to land on Chloe’s lap and she cannot deny how eerily similar things are to her childhood. Could this be the work of a copycat killer, taunting her, or her own paranoia tied in with coincidence of the highest order? While many around her know little about her past, Chloe cannot help but wonder if the delicate balance may come crashing down around her, leaving jagged pieces to scar her anew. A riveting debut novel by Stacy Willingham that will have readers beginning for more!

I love discovering authors who are just getting their start, as it allows me to feel as though I am part of the wave, rather than trying to paddle to catch up to others. Stacy WIllingham is one I am happy to have tripped upon, as she writes so convincingly that I will have to add her to my author tracking radar and see how things progress over the next few years. This is a captivating thriller that taps into a number of areas that caught my attention. She can spin a tale effectively and keep the reader guessing, while also providing a great deal of detail throughout. Just what I needed!

Chloe Davis proves not only to be an effective protagonist, but one who impacts the narrative with everything she does. Scarred by the past revelation that her father was a brutal serial killer, Chloe tries to pick up the pieces and help others who need assistance with their lives. However, she cannot dismiss her past and wrestles to make sense of it, as new crimes emerge on the periphery. Seeking normalcy and finding only glaring questions, Chloe must make sense of all that surrounds her without extrapolating her past into the present. Her backstory is plentiful, as is the development of her characters throughout the book, leaving the reader to put the pieces together to get a more complete idea of who she has become. Chloe’s being taunted, targeted, and perhaps even teased. What she does about it all could prove to be life-altering.

Stacy Willingham roars onto the scene with this book, leaving me to wonder if this could actually be a debut. It’s so put together and strong, from the well-paced narrative to the characters that make the reader want to learn more and keeping reading to ensure they do not miss a thing. There is an eerie sense throughout the book, as truths pop up like gators in the bayou, forcing the reader to surmise much has yet to be revealed. Chapters that beg to be devoured in short order and a plot that has just enough twists to be impactful, Willingham knows how to grip the reader and refuses to let go. She’s definitely one to watch in the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Madam Willingham, for a solid debut. I hope others feel the same and your following grows.