Stacy Willingham doesn’t imbue a Louisiana-based novel with enough Louisiana-ness but that’s about the only real complaint I have of her stellar debut effort here.
As a frequent mystery/thriller/crime reader, I know all the tricks and tells. I know when I’m about to be duped. I generally know who the killer is early on. There’s just only so many ways a writer can retell the same story. This is why I find myself more often interested in the whydunnit than the who- or howdunnit. What makes people commit certain evils? If you forsake character development for plot, it falls apart.
Well, I have to confess that in certain spots, Stacy Willingham really had me fooled. Following the narrator was trickier than I anticipated it would be when I picked this one up. The more certain we think we may be, the less sure we are of the narrator’s accuracy. It added a level of suspense. And even though I did guess the killer relatively early on in the book, I still enjoyed the journey to get there.
And that’s about the best compliment I can offer A Flicker in the Dark: that I was enthralled even when I knew it was coming. Willingham makes sure the story never loses momentum, her dialogue is solid and her prose smooth. She has an incredible level of confidence for a first time writer, one with room to grow but who is already off to a good start. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.