Last year, Wendy Walker entered the crime fiction arena with her powerful novel, All Is Not Forgotten – a twisted tale full of flawed characters and a morally ambiguous plot. Due to its success, anticipation for her follow-up has been high. While not as unique as that previous book, Emma in the Night proves that Wendy Walker is a talent to watch and that she is sure to be entertaining readers of crime fiction for years to come.
Emma in the Night is a much more straight-forward domestic suspense tale than All is Not Forgotten. It tells the story of Emma and Cass, two sisters who went missing from their home on the same night. Are these disappearances connected? Three years later, Cass returns with a wild tale and a desperate need for the authorities to find Emma quickly.
Cassandra is the younger of the two sisters and the ensuing tale is told to readers from her perspective. As she begins to recount her life with a distant mother, readers get a sense that all was not well in the Tanner household. But what exactly was going on and more importantly, if Cass’s story is true, why didn’t Emma return along with her sister?
Alternating with Cassandra’s explanation of events are chapters told from the point of view of Abigail Winter, a forensic psychologist assigned to the case. Cass’s claim of being kidnapped and taken to an isolated Island seems too fantastical and don’t sit will with Abby opinions about the disappearance. She is convinced there is something else going on here, but her colleagues fear that she is simply projecting her own difficult childhood onto this current situation.
One of the central elements running through Emma in the Night is an examination of the difficulties within blended families. After a bitter divorce, both the girl’s parents have begun new relationships and Wendy Walker uses this to fuel a twisting plot. Parents wielding their children’s loyalty as a weapon is far too common in cases of contentious divorces. As Cass and Emma try to figure out where they fit in this new version of reality, Wendy Walker also highlights the struggles facing these two girls who are book-ending the line at the cusp of womanhood.
Manipulation from their self-centered and controlling mother only further exacerbates this difficult period in the girl’s lives. Abby, who also grew up with a narcissistic parent, is able to get Cass to open up about her upbringing, but when everyone is hiding secrets, who can really be trusted?
Emma in the Night is a fast-paced read and the ultimate reveal is both believable and satisfying. Readers has seen a proliferation of domestic suspense novels lately, but Wendy Walker’s understanding of the psychological components which form the backbone of her novel elevate this one above many other similar sounding stories.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title were provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.