Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

emma(New)TheBook
Emma in the Night
By Wendy Walker
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ISBN13: 9781250141439
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

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.


(New) Thoughts

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.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a warm cup of Earl Grey and a splash of milk.

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Psycho Analysis by V.R. Stone

psychothe-book
Psycho Analysis 
By V.R. Stone
Publisher: Silverwhite Press
Kindle ASIN: B01KMRM8ZK
Pages: 269
Genre: Thriller

Blurb:

A serial killer who wants to quit. A detective struggling to keep his personal life out of a murder hunt. And a celebrity psychiatrist facing an incredible challenge. Three damaged individuals, linked by their traumatic histories. They’ve chosen very different paths. Now those paths are about to cross.

Sarah Silver is a hedge fund manager – from Monday to Friday she makes a killing in the markets. At weekends, though, she hunts men, not profits. Martin White used to be a brilliant detective. But his family, judgement and self-control are deserting him. And Karl Gross has sold millions of books on serial killers. However he’s a controversial figure in the medical community.

Can Martin keep it together and catch a killer who commits almost perfect crimes? Is Karl capable of unravelling Sarah’s psyche and putting an end to the killing? Or will she disappear when she realises that the hunter has become the hunted?

PsychoAnalysis is a psychological crime thriller that explores the grey area between good and evil. Why would a woman kill for fun? Can she be understood? Can she be stopped?

“The mind is like an iceberg. Most of it lies beneath the surface, a subconscious universe of thoughts we can’t observe. It contains memories too painful to remember, elicits emotions we don’t want to feel, and makes us do things we don’t understand.”
my-thought

First of all, let’s just take a minute to admire this cover! Exceptional. As chilling as it is befitting. I admit that it succeeded in grabbing my fullest attention. Pair that with the promise of an exciting female serial killer and picking this up is an effortless process.

The story unfolds through the eyes of three individuals.

We meet Sarah who not only kills it in the market, but also on the weekends, literally. She is young, wealthy and beautiful. She is everything a man could desire in a woman, aside from one teeny-weeny bad habit. She hunts and kills men. However, Sarah has decided she wants to stop. But can a serial killer be rehabilitated?

Detective Martin White’s home life is falling apart. His wife is leaving and he is struggling to maintain his grasp. Tasked with tracking down an elusive killer, he is no longer sure of his own capabilities. Can he keep his personal life and work separated long enough to finish the job?

Dr. Karl Gross makes his living treating sex addicts and extreme clients and then selling their stories. His methods have managed to create a less than positive stir in his field. So what happens when he takes on a new client that may be too difficult even for him?

I wanted to love this book, and yet I found myself unable to fully do so. A female serial killer, broken detective and questionable psychiatrist seem like a sure recipe for a fantastic thriller. But it failed to fully come together and fall into that perfect harmony. The pieces just didn’t fit well. For that reason, this will be a briefer summary of my time with the book.

The characters felt flat. I am not even going to soften this because it was my biggest challenge with Psycho Analysis. For as flawed and unique as they were, there was little to nothing extraordinary occurring with each of them. Sarah was mildly interesting, but just not likable in that disturbing sort of way. I wanted to secretly admire some small aspect of her. If you have watched Dexter, then you know what I mean. It is possible to love a serial killer. But not this one. In fact, later events completely turned me off of her.

Detective White and Dr Gross both offered little in terms of engagement of engaging the reader. There is one interesting side of Gross that is presented and then completely dropped?! I felt it could have been a huge addition to the story. Ultimately, I felt as though there was a lot of untapped potential within each of them. This was a dysfunctional trio, so there should have been much more happening beneath the initial surface. I wanted there to be so much more.

The setting and world building were solid though. The author easily transports us back and forth through time as memories are called to the surface and effortlessly paints an immersive image of each encounter. The writing is seamless, allowing the multiple PoVs to go off without a hitch. But it was not without some predictability. A few twists were foreseen and revealed far too early for my personal taste. While the ending did not disappoint, it failed to sincerely surprise me.

The end result was a fun but not so memorable experience. I don’t regret my time with Psycho Analysis, but I am not jumping to fully recommend it either.  If you are in search of a more simplistic thriller or a somewhat mindless read, this might be the one. So if curiosity has you, pick it up and formulate an opinion.

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Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

sisterthe-book
Sister Sister
By Sue Fortin
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Kindle ASIN: B01MXKLNQC
Pages: 384
Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Blurb:

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.


my-thought

This title was another Kindle discovery that immediately captured my attention with its ominous cover and intriguing blurb.  But what I received was even more than a pretty title full of promises.  I haven’t honestly read a good mystery in some time. Sue Fortin definitely catered to me with an exciting plot-line that delivered elements of suspense and psychological thrills.

Sister Sister follows the lives of Alice and Claire who have been reunited many years after their father took Alice and left for America, never to return. Two women, distanced by time and trying to recover what has been lost soon discover that something is amidst. Is this a case of jealousy or dangerous deceit?

“Sometimes the coldest places are in the warmth of your own home, surrounded by your family.”

I have to attribute the success of Sister Sister to the character building, depth and lack of. The entire story unfolds through the eyes of Claire, and it works so wonderfully because she is an incredibly powerful protagonist and a completely unreliable narrator. Claire is everything we could expect from a devoted mother and wife who works full-time and has just been reunited with a sibling she no longer knows. She is loving but she is guarded. She is learning to cope with a range of emotions and even accepting that some of these feeling (i.e. jealousy and mistrust) may be of her own fault and personal insecurities. I adore her because she questions everything. She wants what is ultimately best and what anyone would truly desire in this situation. But is she coming unhinged during the process?

Alice is an enigma. We know so little of her, yet desire to learn so much more. We want to understand her and accept her, but find it is hard to trust the unknown. Questioning her motives soon becomes something we easily do as we find there is such an air of uncertainty. But is that stance fair? Is Alice perhaps the victim here?

And that is where Sister Sister brilliantly shines. Is Claire falling apart? Is Alice really all that she claims to be? Is Claire blinded by her own jealousy to the extent that she has jeopardized all she holds dear? So many uncertainties.

We soon realize that Claire is losing her composure and that maybe Alice just really wants to be with the family she lost so long ago. Each page navigates the reader through a twisted labyrinth of apprehension and mystery creating a fast paced read that manages to successfully deliver turn after unexpected turn. The end result is a well written and executed, fast paced read that packs a nice punch with a shocking revelation. You may think you know, but you do not really know. 

“…the memories have always been there, I just stopped visiting them.”

My only complaint with this edition is that there were a few moments that read as a mistype and small issues with sentence structure that I noted during my read. However, I recommend this one to all fans of psychological thrillers, family centered dramas and high tension reads. I will certainly be revisiting Sue Fortin’s work in the future.

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