2 Sentence Summary
Stacy Willingham delivers a gripping psychological thriller through A Flicker In The Dark that will keep you guessing. Chloe’s dark past resurfaces as she uncovers a new string of murders, leading her to question her fiancé’s innocence. With suspense that builds until the very end, this book is a must-read for thriller enthusiasts.
Summary Read Time: Less than 7 minutes
Actual Book Length: 357
First Published in: 2022
Below is the detailed yet quick A Flicker In The Dark summary:
Our story commences with a prologue that recalls the narrator learning fear at the age of twelve. We meet Chloe, a psychiatrist in May 2018, handling patients like 15-year-old Lacey Deckler, struggling with her father’s departure. The narrative takes a personal turn when Chloe shares her own similar experience with Lacey. That same evening, Aaron Jansen, a reporter from the New York Times, contacts Chloe regarding her father, who is serving prison time. The 20th anniversary of the missing girls, a dark incident from Chloe’s childhood, has stirred his interest. However, Chloe declines his request for a chat.
As we delve further into Chloe’s past, we discover that she hails from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. A town where six girls disappeared in the summer of ’98 when Chloe was just twelve. As the narrative shuttles back to the present, we find Chloe calling in a prescription for Xanax for “Daniel Briggs” and picking it up under his name. An unexpected surprise engagement party, organized by her fiancée Daniel, awaits her at home. During the party, Chloe and her brother Cooper have a mild disagreement about the quickness of her engagement, resolved by a timely interruption from Daniel.
In the following chapters, Chloe wakes up to a hangover, tends to wedding planning. She is shocked by the news of a missing 15-year-old girl, Aubrey Gravino. This news triggers a memory from 2012, when Lena Rhodes, the first girl to go missing, was taken, leading to her father’s arrest for the kidnappings and murders. The recollection of her father being dragged away by police, their mother weeping, hangs heavy in her mind.
In her disturbed state after learning about Aubrey, Chloe takes a drive, finding herself near Cypress Cemetery, the last known location of Aubrey. A surprise awaits her—a search party in action, where she glimpses a matching earring to the one Aubrey wore on her MISSING poster.
This incident evokes memories of Lena, who had a firefly belly-button charm that Chloe discovered in her father’s closet months after her disappearance. The present-day narrative then takes us to Chloe’s office. There she takes an Ativan from her stash of self-prescribed pills. Her unsettled emotions get further jolted by the news of Aubrey’s body being found.
As the echoes of the past loom over the present, we find Chloe grappleing with the ghosts of her father’s crimes and an unnerving sense of déjà vu. Chloe, a psychiatrist, recognizes she’s afflicted with PTSD, an unwelcome souvenir from her harrowing adolescence as the daughter of the infamous Richard Davis.
Following high school torment, she sought solace in college anonymity, but struggles with trust issues complicated her personal life. However, through her stint at a hospital, she finds a supportive circle of friends and the companionship of Daniel. He is a man who shares the pain of losing a loved one under mysterious circumstances.
The present day introduces a grave challenge to Chloe – the missing case of Lacey Deckler, her patient. Melissa, the receptionist, is visibly upset, leading Chloe to cancel her appointments and return home. As she switches on the news, the chilling account of Lacey’s disappearance, eerily similar to the girls who disappeared in 1998, sends shivers down her spine.
Subsequently, two officers come to question her about Lacey, awakening painful memories of her own past encounters with the police over her father’s crimes.
After this unsettling episode, Chloe finds solace in visiting her mother, Mona, residing at an assisted living facility following a suicide attempt. Their conversation is interrupted by surprising news – Aaron Jansen, an old acquaintance, visited her mother.
Next, Chloe has a disquieting meeting with Aaron, a journalist, at a coffee shop. He proposes an unnerving theory that the recent disappearances are the handiwork of a copycat killer. Meanwhile, Lacey’s body is discovered behind Chloe’s office, leading her to the harrowing realization that the victims’ circumstances bear striking resemblance to her father’s victims. Amidst these revelations, Chloe is caught between her desire to confide in Daniel and maintaining her professional boundaries.
Her dialogue with Aaron continues, with Chloe reminiscing about her childhood friendship with Lena, one of the victims from 1998. This discussion leads to the connection of the missing jewelry from the original and recent cases, known only to a limited group. She also voices her suspicions about Lena’s father, Bert, who bore a noticeable animosity towards her father. While trying to avoid discussing her theories with Daniel, Chloe embarks on a mission to uncover more about Bert, leading to alarming discoveries about his violent past.
As Chloe is caught in the whirlwind of her investigation, the past and present collide when she finds herself face-to-face with Bert Rhodes, standing ominously on her doorstep.
Under the veil of a home security installation, Chloe reluctantly lets the bitter Bert into her home. Perturbed by his presence and doubts about the system, she discloses her apprehensions and her connections to the 1998 case to Detective Thomas. While initially skeptical, he agrees to look into her suspicions about Bert. He leaves Chloe with the nagging worry that she’s only heightened his doubts about her.
Waking up to an identical necklace to Aubrey’s replacing Daniel’s gun, Chloe finds herself grappling with a growing unease. Her worries are compounded by her mother’s deteriorating health and a mounting mistrust of Daniel’s actions. As she uncovers inconsistencies in Daniel’s past, his work trip to New Orleans and belated arrival to their engagement party start appearing less benign.
Chloe masterminds a faux bachelorette party, providing her the much-needed cover to dig into Daniel’s potential secrets. Simultaneously, she stumbles upon a restraining order threat from Bert, raising her own defense and revisiting past accusations. The balance she maintains between her personal investigations and a looming suspicion surrounding her becomes a nerve-racking tightrope walk.
Pretending to embark on a trip to New Orleans, Chloe orchestrates a secret meeting with Aaron to unravel a case potentially tied to the copycat killer. In a shocking twist, Daniel’s estranged mother insinuates his involvement in Sophie’s disappearance. Panicked, Chloe flees, only to be swamped with missed calls and the news of Riley’s disappearance upon awakening. Despite Daniel’s promise to leave the house, Chloe’s discovery of him with the incriminating necklace through security footage leaves her reeling.
Chloe has an epiphany – could her old, deserted house in Breaux Bridge be the macabre storage for the victims’ bodies?
Chloe plunges back into her old hometown and childhood home. There, she finds a drugged yet alive Riley. Unexpectedly, she also finds Aaron who cryptically claims to have sought Riley there based on Chloe’s information. Sensing something amiss, Chloe realizes Aaron’s press badge is fake, prompting her to question his true identity. Before he can respond, she shoots him, leaving his body lifeless.
Chloe relays her dramatic tale to Detective Thomas and Officer Doyle. She recounts her interactions with the faux reporter, Aaron, and her unsettling discoveries regarding Daniel. It’s revealed that Aaron is actually Tyler Price, a dropout from Breaux Bridge, who had a disturbing collection of victims’ jewelry. Reassuringly, Chloe learns Riley is alive and Detective Thomas agrees to investigate Daniel.
However, our protagonist is not quite done. Despite the tumult, Chloe is still resolved to confront her father. She returns home to find Daniel, who claims innocence over Sophie’s death and recounts their abusive past. Their decision to fake Sophie’s death as part of the Breaux Bridge murders provides an astonishing twist. Sophie is alive and living in Mississippi. Daniel’s visits to Chloe’s father were an attempt to uncover the truth behind the original killings.
Confronting her brother, Cooper, Chloe accuses him of the twenty-year-old murders. He uses Tyler Price in his plan and attempts to drive her away from Daniel. Cooper confesses that the jewelry from the closet was his collection. He admits to killing Tara King, his first victim, and couldn’t stop after that. Tragically, Lena discovered his secret and had to be silenced. Chloe understands her mother’s silent message and the guilt her father harbored, driving him to protect his son.
The drama climaxes as Chloe insists on reporting Cooper to the police. A drugged drink incapacitates Cooper before he could pose any threat to her. The shocking realization dawns – it was Cooper, not her father, who she saw with a shovel all those years ago.
Finally, in the epilogue, we arrive at what was supposed to be Chloe and Daniel’s wedding day in July 2018. Cooper is incarcerated, and her father is soon to be released. Despite an apology from her father, Chloe still struggles with feelings of resentment. Visiting Sophie’s home, she returns the family heirloom ring and discovers Daniel has been residing with Sophie since moving out. Leaving behind Sophie’s house and her past, Chloe steps into a future full of uncertainty.