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A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham
Thriller

A Flicker in the Dark

BOTY FINALIST

Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to A Flicker in the Dark!

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Stacy Willingham, on your first book!

Early Release

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by Stacy Willingham

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Quick take

When a serial killer emerges with an eerily familiar pattern, Chloe Davis wonders if she's really escaped her past.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological

    Psychological

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder

    Murder

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unsettling

    Unsettling

Synopsis

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren't really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of A Flicker in the Dark.
A Flicker in the Dark

PROLOGUE

I thought I knew what monsters were.

As a little girl, I used to think of them as mysterious shadows lurking behind my hanging clothes, under my bed, in the woods. They were a presence I could physically feel behind me, moving in closer as I walked home from school in the glare of the setting sun. I didn’t know how to describe the feeling, but I just knew they were there, somehow. My body could sense them, sense danger, the way your skin seems to prickle just before a hand is placed on an unsuspecting shoulder, the moment you realize that unshakable feeling you had was a set of eyes burrowing into the back of your skull, lurking behind the branches of an overgrown shrub.

But then you turn around, and the eyes are gone.

I remember the feeling of uneven ground twisting my skinny ankles as I walked faster and faster down the gravel roadway that led to my house, fumes from the retreating school bus billowing behind me. The shadows in the woods danced as the sun streamed through the tree branches, my own silhouette looming large like an animal prepared to pounce.

I would take deep breaths, count to ten. Close my eyes and squeeze my lids.

And then I would run.

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Why I love it

How does it feel to find out your father is a serial killer? And how do you go on with your life after such an event? Those are the questions at the heart of Stacey Willingham’s thrilling debut, a novel that is as much about family as it is about the monsters that live among us.

The narrator of A Flicker in the Dark is Chloe Davis, who was twelve when her father confessed to murdering six teenage girls in their hometown. Since then Chloe has gone to college, become a child-psychiatrist, and now, at 32, is on the cusp of marrying a dashing man. But the ground is still a little shaky. She is a little too fond of pharmaceutical escape, a little unsure about the people closest to her. So when girls start going missing again, in ways that suggest a copycat killer, Chloe becomes obsessively driven to discover the truth.

What this book gets so well is that the scariest monsters are not monsters all the time. Sometimes they are fathers, or best friends, or siblings, or lovers. Down deep, we want our boogeymen to come from somewhere else. We tell ourselves there are bad people out there, but they are strangers from another tribe, another town, another country. A Flicker in the Dark tells a different story: Don’t trust anyone. This book will keep you guessing right up until the very end, flying through chapters to find out who the monsters are.

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Member ratings (68,342)

  • Alexis A.

    Birmingham, AL

    This was just so well done. This isn’t the most surprising thriller out there, but it’s entertaining & a great character driven thriller whose reveals were expertly done. A fave for sure. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

  • Bri B.

    Scottsdale, AZ

    This book grabbed me from chapter 1! I was so hooked, I read it in just over a week. Chloe’s struggle throughout was so captivating, always left me wanting to know more. Highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Denise R.

    Pinehurst, NC

    I completely understand why this debut novel was a 2022 BOTY Finalist! I couldn’t put it down…I had to know who actually murdered those poor girls. I kept guessing & then changing my mind. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Maureen P.

    Murray, UT

    I thought I had this book all figured out and was surprised by a multitude of twists. It is so beautifully written and will keep you on the edge of your seat ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ highly recommend!

  • Jennifer K.

    Lakewood , CO

    7/5⭐️ Holy Sh*t! This book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time! I couldn’t put it down once I got into it! No wonder this book is up for BOTY! If it doesn’t win, I don’t know what will! LOVE!

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