A Flicker in the Dark

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I almost always give even the shittiest books at least two stars because the author I’m bashing wrote words and got them published. Good job. However, given that the story has already been optioned by Emma Stone, I don’t think the author will be weeping into her labradoodle’s fur over my piddly little review. So, fuck it. ONE STAR.

“Psychology,” I said. “I’m hoping to pursue my PhD here next fall – then, eventually get my master’s.”

Reader, my eyes closed in pain. I’d like to call this an editorial error, but I think the main character is actually this stupid. I have a master’s degree. I also have a doctorate. Which one do you think came first – the doctor designation, or the dusty, useless piece of paper my mom put in a frame? Hmm.

Where to even start with this book? Chloe Davis, the human equivalent of hold music, is very deeply damaged. She’s the daughter of a notorious serial killer, and she’s done everything she can to separate herself from that life. Those efforts include the following: not changing her name, moving an hour away from her hometown, giving an interview on how her serial killer father inspired her career, ETC. Girlfriend, have you heard of Google? Everybody knows you. Your Ken-doll fiancé – yeah, you didn’t have to reveal nothing, because other people know how the internet works.

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Yep, let’s discuss Ken-doll: he throws you surprise parties even though he knows you freak out about everything. He unilaterally decides to throw in a little surprise choking during some nice, relaxing morning sex. (Didn’t your father’s victims die by choking? Huh. Tacky). Dude disappears all the time and you never really bother to ask where he is or what he’s doing. Sounds super great. A nice healthy relationship. At least you can call in prescriptions in his name! (Apparently psychologists can do that in Louisiana –solidifying the decision to set the book here, because this girl would have never made it through medical school).

Elevator music drug and alcohol problem: Look, I realize I’m more Hunter S. Thompson than most, but this D & A problem ain’t really that bad. I work with lawyers and criminal defendants, and ALL of us are taking benzos legally or illegally and in much higher quantities than Princess Chloe here. You’re worried ONE xanax is going to muck up your day? If you’re really an addict, you’d have to take half the bottle to even notice you took anything. Two glasses of wine after a xanax, and you wake up not remembering what happened? Two xanax and you lose a DAY AND A HALF? This is some amateur shit right here. Our girl talks about having done all of this since college (10-12 years?) — this is your tolerance? LEAVE THIS PARTY RIGHT NOW.

Some other random thoughts: they find Valium in the first victim’s hair follicles approximately two seconds after they find the body. What coroner on what earth is looking at a hair follicle test first thing? Those things take days to process in a best case scenario. They would use a blood test, a vitreous fluid test, maybe even a urine test if there was any remaining. I’ve sat through enough expert witness testimony to feel personally affronted by this scene. This inattention to detail covered the entire book. I understand we don’t all need to know the science. But if you don’t have the science, you need the characters. Ergo, if there is neither science nor character, you have a fucking snoozer, my friends. Who even needs the Xanax at this point.

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SHE SLEEPS WITH THE FAKE REPORTER MURDERER. God! Was the choking the day before not enough? Also, there was chocolate on a pillow at a Motel 6? Laugh out loud. This is like Blair from “Gossip Girl” trying to write “poor.”

Then, revelation time. Chloe has solved this puzzle! The dang murderer is obviously taking these girls to Chloe’s childhood home. She also apparently used to know him, because he’s from her home town. EYE ROLL. She is going to drive right to the house and not tell anyone about it. She is also going to leave her phone in the car because why would you need that? (Aside: a famous serial killer’s house has been sitting empty for 20 years and it’s somehow completely intact, not vandalized, burned down…?) In what world?

Well, thankfully Dr. Brilliant Chloe remembers to take the gun into the house, even though she’s never shot a gun in her life. Earlier in the book, she even rues the fact. “Golly gee, I should really learn to shoot this thing.” But, in this perfect moment, the benzos have steadied her hands, and she shoots that dumb fucker reporter lover murderer right in the fatal spot. Deus ex 9mm.

But, of course that’s not the end, because the killer from 20 years ago was Chloe’s weirdo brother. Did that surprise a single person who read this? The serial killer sitting in jail never actually did it, duh. Turns out those porno mags Cooper kept in his room really pushed him over the edge. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. NONE OF IT MAKES ANY SENSE. Cooper feels the darkness, he says. Yeah, dude. We all feel the fucking darkness. Take this bottle of xanax and work it out.

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The ending is Chloe arriving at her former(?) fiancé’s sister’s house. She drove to Mississippi to return the ring (certified mail anyone?), but she doesn’t actually want to talk to Ken-doll. In retrospect, and aside from not asking permission for the choking, he wasn’t so bad. He’s a pharmaceutical rep and she’s a drug “addict.” Match made in heaven, DUH.

Chloe’s dad gets out of jail because, also, DUH. My only emotional response to that was that everyone should watch the show Rectify and forget they read this stupid fucking book. If my kid was murdering people, you better believe I wouldn’t take a murder rap for that little psycho!

Emma Stone, my beautiful, husky-voiced girlfriend: I love you, but this book is not your “Sharp Objects.”

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. personally i find it very funny that your poor husband has to go to sleep and wake up while staring at rhysand’s face, i hope the good artwork makes up for that lmaooo

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