A Flicker in the Dark is a psychological thriller in the truest sense. It’s engaging, tense, and loaded with surprising twists that make it quite a thrill ride. The plot features a gritting and unsettling copycat serial killer mystery. It’s about monsters living among us in plain sight, and in the stark light of day. Reading A Flicker in the Dark for book club will definitely give your group a lot to discuss about.
Be prepared to unravel your thoughts and share your unanswered questions about this book with your group. Use these A Flicker in the Dark book club questions to get your convo going. This discussion guide for A Flicker in the Dark includes a synopsis, 10 book club questions, some selected reviews (some folks loved it, others hated it) and three (dark and twisty) related reads.
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A Flicker in the Dark Synopsis
(We always chose to provide the publisher synopsis because we feel that it’s worthwhile to discuss whether the official book description actually squared with your experience of the book.)
A Flicker in the Dark, Stacy Willingham
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life, leaving Chloe and the rest of her family to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.
Now twenty years later, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. While she finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve, she sometimes feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren’t actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?
A Flicker in the Dark Book Club Questions
These questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience, but if you want more ideas, we also have an article with 101 generic book club questions.
- The book opens up with a prologue, “I thought I knew what monsters were.” What were your expectations for the book after reading the prologue?
- How are the past and present treated in the book, and how does this affect the reader’s understanding of events as the story progresses?
- The juxtaposition between darkness and the light is everywhere throughout the story. How do these images and feelings play off one another?
- “I think of the girls, of all the missing girls out there, and I force myself to keep walking toward the truth.” Do you think that Chloe goes too far in her search to solve the mystery? Do you think her father’s past crimes is the reason why she’s relentless in her search?
- Were you surprised by the reveal of who the copycat murderer was? If so, who did you suspect was the killer? Why did you think he/she was the suspect?
- This story had a lot of twists in it, what was your favorite part of the book? What was your least favorite part? Was there anything you thought could have been left out?
- Chloe is somewhat of an unreliable narrator. She is high-strung, with lots of anxiety and paranoia, often sees things that are not real, and she also self-medicates. Did you find it hard to follow what was and wasn’t real because of Chloe’s inconsistencies?
- The author used a lot of flashbacks, in a back-and-forth (past and present) style that intertwined with the plot line. Did you find it easy to follow? Why or why not?
- After reading the ending of the book, did you feel that there were any cliffhangers or questions left unanswered? If so, what were they?
- The setting in the story is set in Baton Rouge, did you find this setting helpful for the eerie plot line? Is there another place that would have been eerier?
- BONUS QUESTION: An excerpt in the book by Friedrich Nietzsche says, “whoever fights monsters should see to it that, in the process, he does not become a monster. If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.“ Do you agree with the Nietzche? How does the quote relate to the book?
Selected Reviews of A Flicker in the Dark
“I find myself hovering in outlier-ville with this one. Almost all of my GR friends loved this book, but although the writing is excellent, the plot failed to captivate me as much as I had hoped. This is an impressive debut, so it is totally worth reading, especially if you go check out some of those aforementioned glowing reviews and see that I’m solidly in the minority.”
“Unfortunately, nothing about this book worked for me. The whodunit was glaringly obvious almost from the beginning though there was a twist I didn’t expect at all. I enjoy this genre and would have enjoyed the book in spite of mostly figuring out the ending, but to me Chloe is just not a likable protagonist. I found her character to be grating, and found the need to suspend belief in order for this storyline to work tiring…”
“Flicker in the Dark has everything I look for in a good thriller. Excellent writing, a story that flows smoothly , solid characters that you can relate to and understand while at the same time wanting to shake them for their choices, and the obvious “bad guy” standing right in front of you holding a sign that says “seriously how did you not know it was me?” The twists come out of nowhere so that you absolutely cannot stop reading because you have to know what happens next and the chapters are so short that it makes it super easy to read through in just a few sittings.”
“This novel was a wonderful thriller full of twists and turns. The reader is swept along with Chloe as she battles her past, present, and very mind. I enjoyed all the twists within the novel and how throughout it was difficult to know which way was up. The author did a wonderful job of showing the downward spiral of Chloe’s memories and paranoia.”
3 Books Like A Flicker in the Dark
We have quite a few book club guides for dark mysteries and psychological thrillers. Check out our discussion guides for The Silent Patient, Verity, Into the Water, The Paris Apartment, The Last Thing He Told Me, The Guest List, Run Rose Run, I Have Some Questions for You, The Housemaid and The Northern Spy. Each has a synopsis at the top of the page.
And if you loved the twisty psychology element, check out our list of books similar to The Silent Patient for related reads.
All the Dangerous Things, Stacy Willingham
Also written by Willingham, this is another gripping thriller about a mother who is desperate to find her son, Mason, who was taken in the middle of the night. The case grew cold with the police but Isabelle refused to give up on the search for her son, spending every waking hour trying to solve the case.
“I thought I had the plot figured out several times but I was wrong. You will need to be an amazing detective to figure this one out!!”
Survive the Night, Riley Sager
Here is another story involving a serial killer, this one is focused on a college campus with female students being picked off by someone. Charlie, who is still grieving the loss of her best friend, soon finds herself a possible next-victim on campus. The question is will Charlie be able to survive to tell the truth in this cat-and-mouse type thriller.
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes
This unique serial killer genre is about a time traveler named Harper, who travels to different eras to kill women known as “the shining girls”. Harper essentially hunts then kills these shining girls to ensure he’ll be able to continue his travels across time. Only time will tell if he will ever get caught for his crimes.
Beukes is known for her weird characters and plot twists and this one doesn’t disappoint.
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Authored by Janelle Kennedy
Janelle is an avid reader who was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. When not reading or writing, she’s working at a rural elementary school as an instructional aide, helping kids learn to read and write.