Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
Published by St. Martin’s Press on August 8, 2017 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller
Format & Length: e-book, 320
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One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.
Emma in the Night was one of those books that I finished and thought, Well, that was crazy. And I mean that in the best way possible.
“We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe. Maybe there’s no difference between wanting and needing. I don’t know. What I do know is that the truth can evade us, hiding behind our blind spots, our preconceptions, our hungry hearts that long for quiet. Still, it is always there if we open our eyes and try to see it. If we really try to see.”
This was told through two perspectives: Cass, the girl who has just returned after she and her sister disappeared three years prior; and Dr. Abby Winter, the forensic psychiatrist who worked on the case of trying to find the sisters and is now trying to uncover what happened. I really enjoyed seeing this plot unfold from both angles side by side as it helped me to interpret the events and understand the bigger picture more completely. Given this story structure, however, the plot twists and ending didn’t actually come as much of a surprise to me. Both of these characters I also found to be complex, layered, and interesting. And they weren’t the only ones. I don’t recall thinking that any of the characters were flat or uninteresting, although more than a few had absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
“I think there are two types of people. Ones who have a scream inside them and ones who don’t.”
What was especially fascinating to me about Emma in the Night was its focus on narcissism. Not just the generic narcissism that we sometimes throw around off-handedly, but a full in depth analysis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My actual knowledge of this subject is limited to the bit of research I did after reading this book, but it seems that Walker was quite meticulous in her exploration. Not only that, it was woven through the story in such way that it was both integral to the plot and informative without reading like a textbook.
“Your secrets are never safe. Not ever. Unless you never tell them to another person.”
Well written and fast paced, I definitely recommend Emma in the Night to anyone who likes a solid psychological thriller.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.