Emma in the Night
By Wendy Walker
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…
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 and Cass Tanner disappear one night without a trace. Three years later, Cass arrives at her mother’s doorstep, alone. Desperate to find her sister Emma, she shares her incredible story of the events leading up to her return. What ensues is a tale that much darker and twisted than even forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter has imagined, and she has a few theories of her own since she original began the case three years ago. Just how deep can family secrets run?
Mysteries are always hard to review for me. Those worth reading are cherished for that elusive truth that one must work to uncover. Revealing too little or too much can be detrimental. And that is where Emma in the Night shines. Wendy Walker has established an unnaturally rewarding balance between the known and unknown. The reader is supplied with just enough ammunition to formulate several working theories, but left to ponder endless possibilities. The end result is an experience that is hard to walk away from and draws the reader further in with each page.
Told through the alternating points of view of Cass Tanner and Dr. Abby Winter, we are slowly exposed to both sides of this mysterious case. Cass is brilliant in terms of a protagonist. To label her as strong feels unjust. While she is not without insecurities and flaws that build her up as a credible character, she is a survivor. Her ability to acknowledge her own weaknesses and her family’s dysfunction with raw truth and play on these facts, weaves a fantastic tale full of questions that beg to be answered.
I found Abby to be less desirable as a main character, but not without merit. At times she felt too open and almost desperate. But her own history with a narcissistic parent played well into her role and provided some insight, albeit limited. I feel like saying she was without value is not warranted. But make no mistake, this is Cass’s story.
The world building is confined to an island and the Tanner’s home, but felt much larger in the grand scheme. The narration establishes an environment that is a familiar as it is foreign. Cleverly implementing elements of the known and uncertain, the likable and unlikable, Walker plays on the reader’s many emotions, engaging them on multiple levels.
The writing is perceptive and sharp. This is a prime example of a well-developed plot that has been executed flawlessly. It reads with an incredible ease and delivers a suspenseful tale that will leave readers thinking and rethinking with each new development.
Emma in the Night is for anyone who loves a dark story full of twists. If you enjoy a good dysfunctional family and mystery, this will be a welcomed and necessary addition to your shelves.
Enjoyed with a warm cup of Earl Grey and a splash of milk.