Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
Release Date: 8 August 2017
My Rating: 4/5
Cass and Emma, close teenage sisters, disappear from their safe suburban town. Three years later Cass knocks on her mother’s front door, frantic for help rescuing her sister. Cass recounts a grotesque tale of imprisonment. The original team assigned to her case, an older FBI agent and his doctor (psychiatrist) compatriot, descend on Cass to try to find her sister and give this tragedy a happy ending. But nothing can prepare those around Cass for the secrets she will divulge, both from during and before the kidnapping. Cass’ return seems at first an end to the horror but it is merely the beginning.
Full disclosure: I did not like Wendy Walker’s previous novel, “All is Not Forgotten.” I disliked it so much, in fact, that I felt guilty picking up the ARC of “Emma in the Night” for an unbiased review. This novel is worlds apart from her previous. Sensitivity toward different personality disorders, particularly that of a borderline and a narcissist, allowed the characters to be so much more than their handicaps. The story reveals the impact these disorders have on those around them which is quite the difficult task to realistically convey. My only complaint was that the novel truly “showed it’s research” which is to say that sometimes the exposition on psychiatric illness felt textbook-y and pasted in rather than natural. Walker was able to make this work by having the more clinical analysis delivered by the psychiatrist but she became (slightly) repetitive in her case diagnostics. The tale switches perspectives between Cass and her psychiatrist, both with their own unreliabilities and both very sympathetic. Beginning as a straightforward kidnapping tale this story develops into a full throttle psychological thriller. Hard to put down. Recommended. ~Thanks to St. Martins Press and netgalley for the ARC~