Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Emma in the Night

Rate this book
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.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published August 8, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Wendy Walker

12 books3,170 followers
Wendy Walker is the author of psychological suspense. Her novels have been translated into 23 foreign languages, have topped bestseller lists both nationally and abroad, and have been optioned for television and film.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
7,873 (20%)
4 stars
15,622 (41%)
3 stars
11,132 (29%)
2 stars
2,817 (7%)
1 star
587 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,718 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.7k followers
June 18, 2018
If you could see the look of disillusionment coloring my face right now—or were made privy to the number of times I rolled my eyes through this convoluted storyline or huffed in pure exasperation as I succumbed to page after page of pure messiness—you might have some idea that this book wasn’t a great fit for me. But you can’t and you weren't, so I guess I’ll just have to lay it all out with my thoughts instead. Yes, that’s right, once again, I’ve fallen victim to another overly-hyped "psychological thriller". What’s the deal? Am I just incredibly picky or with variety and exposure have I become more in tune with what works for me and what doesn’t? Or who knows, maybe it's a combination of both?

I’m not a reader that gave Wendy Walker's debut, All Is Not Forgotten, a chance. There was something about the synopsis that didn’t appeal to me and at this point, I’m thinking that was a very wise decision. After this book, I don’t feel like I connect with the author’s point of view or her writing style, to be quite honest. Just like everything else in life, reading is subjective and this just so happens to be one of those times that reader and writer weren’t a good fit.

One of my biggest pet peeves as a reader is being told what happens versus actually having the chance to experience what the characters are going through firsthand. So above all else, it was the fact that almost the entire book consisted of stories that Cass relayed to other people—rather than flashbacks, memories or scenes with actual dialogue that we could live through—that dragged this story down for me. What happened to show, not tell? When an author chooses to take the tell route it severs any chance this reader will forge an emotional connection to the storyline—be it the characters or the situations they find themselves in. It doesn't matter how much the author throws around the idea of some psychological disorder.

Now, to give Wendy Walker some credit, there is a reason behind the story being told in this manner, but it was so borderline mediocre, it didn’t make up for the incredibly messy, overly wordy and downright blah experience, I found it to be.

What happens when two teenage sisters disappear and only one resurfaces randomly, three years later, with an outlandish story and a plea to help find her sister? Well, I'll tell you—the author beats the reader over the head with the emotional turmoil this family endures as a result of a narcissistic mother. She explores the struggle that ensues for ultimate control and the importance of breaking that cycle, but honestly, I didn’t care. Ms. Walker failed to make me care about any of these people—not the mother, the daughters or even the broken detective with her own mommy issues. Again, throwing that disorder around and not really allowing us to fully experience the emotions that surround the psychosis firsthand, didn’t work for me.

Being the optimist I am, of course I held out hope the ending or the twist would somehow redeem the story for me, but no shocker that didn’t happen. Let’s be honest, it rarely does. I think I was too far gone at that point to find any sort of enjoyment in the outcome or even believe that anyone would go to those lengths when the facts could have been proven so easily. Trickery? I think not.

*Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Deanna .
691 reviews12.5k followers
May 20, 2018
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

This is the second book by Wendy Walker that I have read. I read ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN last year and loved it. I was really excited when I heard about EMMA IN THE NIGHT, but a part of me was worried that I wouldn't like it.

"The truth can evade us, hiding behind out 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"

The Tanner sisters disappeared on a foggy night three years ago. Emma was seventeen-years-old and Cass was fifteen. Now three years later, Cass is back. Turning up on her mother's doorstep....alone.

When they disappeared, Emma's car was found at the beach, with her purse and keys inside. Her shoes were in the water. Assumptions were made. Almost everyone believed Emma was dead. But they couldn't figure out what happened to Cass. Emma would never have taken Cass with her to the beach. Plus none of Cass's things were missing. So where was she? Different people believed different things. Could it be a coincidence? One sister dead, the other a runaway? An abduction?

"Some people needed to believe I was dead because it was too hard to wonder"

The girl's mother tells the story of the night in question, which gives her the attention she thrives on. An apparent fight between Cass and Emma over a necklace then a car seen leaving later that night...

Social media, the girl's cells phones, and diaries didn't help at all. Everyone was at a loss.

What happened to the Tanner sisters?

We learn more about what life was like in the Tanner/Martin home. Dysfunctional would be one way of putting it. Daughters who craved attention from a mother who also craved attention, and for whom playing favorites was a game she perfected.

"Am I a good mother? The best mother you could ever want?"

For three years, Cass had imagined the moment see would see her mother again. But she was not at all prepared for the expression on her mother's face when she saw Cass on her front porch.

They take Cass inside, asking question after question, but Cass won't answer. Until finally.....

"We need the police!" "They have to find Emma! They have to find her!"

Dr. Abigail Winter (Abby) forensic psychologist is called in to consult along with the FBI. Abby knows this case inside out, it has eaten at her all these years. One those cases that buries itself deep under your skin. Abby could see things that others couldn't...or wouldn't. So when she hears the words "Cassandra Tanner came home", she's on her feet, ready to go in seconds.

Will she finally find out what happened the night the girls disappeared? Where has Cass been? Where is Emma? Is it possible that the theory Abby had about the case was correct? The theory that no one else believed?

"Find Emma!"

When Abby hears those words from Cassandra Tanner's mouth, time stands still. Emma is alive?

"The island." Cass said. "She's still on the island"

And with that, Cass begins telling them what happened. As she begins her story, everyone keeps asking her why they left in the first place. When she finally replies, her answer shocks them all.

As I mentioned before I was worried I wouldn't like this book as much as I liked the authors first novel. I shouldn't have worried as I REALLY enjoyed it.

EMMA IN THE NIGHT is not just a story about two missing girls. It's a story about love, obsession, loyalty, mental illness, secrets, jealousy, and even revenge.

The story is told from Cass and Abby's point of view. I think the book is well paced, and I couldn't wait to read what was going to happen next. This is one of those books that I wanted to talk about to everyone. I've always been interested in behavioral psychology and one of the main themes of the book is one I'm most interested in. I found it fascinating. Wendy Walker really knows her stuff. Intelligent and disturbing, I was completely engrossed in the psychological aspects of this story as well as the mystery itself.

EMMA IN THE NIGHT is definitely a book I won't soon forget. I'm two for two with Wendy Walker and I cannot wait for more!

Thank you, St. Martin's Press for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,484 reviews79.1k followers
August 5, 2017
Trying something a little different here guys. Sam and I wrote sort of a joint review; think book club discussion style. We chose questions for us each to answer that we felt covered what you need to know about the book going in, as well as our feelings toward the characters, plot, and author's previous books. I'm just going to post the link to my blog post as the formatting is very specific and won't translate well over to Goodreads. Don't worry; this isn't click bait intended to guide you away from Goodreads and I won't be doing this for the majority of my reviews, simply the ones in this style. Hope you enjoy the book; I know we did!

Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,130 reviews3,713 followers
June 28, 2017
I recently read Wendy Walker's previous book All Is Not Forgotten and loved it! When I saw she had a new release I was all in for another great read! Sadly, in my opinion, this one did not match the brilliance of the first.

Cass and Emma grew up in a blended family. After their parents divorced, Emma chose to stay with their mother, her new husband and son. Little sister Cass reluctantly tagged along. Their mother, always totally unpredictable with her affections, took great joy playing cruel games with their emotions. A Pathologic narcissist.

Cass and Emma disappear on the same day, though under different circumstances. Three years later one of them returns.

Dr. Abigail Winter, a forensic psychiatrist with the FBI dedicated herself to this case until it went cold, sending her into a tailspin. Now she’s been given a second chance to pull herself out of the darkness and help bring the second sister home.

Written from both Cass and Dr. Winter's point of view, in present and past tense. At times I was so confused, I never quite knew who was talking, and if it was a flash back or current conversation.
Nobody was very likable in this book. The writing seemed disjointed and I felt disconnected with the main characters. The pace of the book seemed somewhat slow, and really didn’t pull me in. I found myself frustrated and struggling through most of it. Maybe because I had such high hopes for this one I set myself up to be disappointed…?


Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Wendy Walker for an ARC to review in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
816 reviews12.7k followers
August 4, 2017
Since GR seems to be fully functional (fingers crossed), I have finally posted my review!

Emma in the Night is a chilling psychological thriller about the stories people create in order to survive.

Sisters Emma and Cass had to endure their mother’s narcissistic personality throughout their childhood. As they begin to grow up, they come to recognize their mother’s dangerous nature. Older sister Emma shines; she is the one that everyone sees and wants a piece of. She is her mother’s greatest competition. Younger sister Cass hides in the shadows, keenly observing those around her. Engrossed in a world of manipulation and games that is fueled by sick and twisted competition, the sisters must do what they can to survive.

One night, the sisters go missing without a trace. Their case stays unresolved for three years until Cass returns home out of the blue. She says she escaped captivity on an island and tells a story about Emma, who is still trapped. Cass’s story slowly unravels and it becomes clear that she is hiding something about the night she and Emma disappeared.

I got sucked into the darkness and delusion of Cass's tale. I was captivated by her voice, and was eager to see how her story was going to play out. I found their mother fascinating, yet cringe worthy. The only part that didn’t work for me were the chapters told from Abby Winters’ POV (but they serve a purpose). I highly recommend for those who enjoy psychological thrillers!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
August 20, 2017
I've remarked in previous reviews that much like they say in spy movies, my philosophy when reading thrillers is simple: trust no one . Any character that appears I immediately view as a possible suspect.

Of course, while that thought process makes it a little more difficult when reading, it helps me avoid being irritated when the resolution of a book includes a character who came totally out of the blue. Where Wendy Walker's crazy, twisty, yet surprisingly weighty new book, Emma in the Night , was concerned, I may not have been ultimately surprised by everything, but Walker took me on quite a journey to get there, full of surprises and twists which kept me guessing.

One night, 15-year-old Cassandra Tanner and her older sister Emma disappeared. Emma's car was found on a beach, but there was never any trace of the girls. FBI forensic psychologist Abby Winter suspected there was more to the girls' disappearance that met the eye, but she couldn't convince her supervisors, and the case nearly destroyed her. But three years later, Cass has returned home without Emma, but she pleads desperately that they rescue her sister.

Cass' story is a harrowing one, of being kept captive on a remote island with Emma. She sacrificed a lot to get home, and is afraid her sister might not still be on the island, or even be alive once the FBI figures out where they've been held captive. Cass' return has also thrown her divorced parents into turmoil, as they are happy that Cass is back but they fear for Emma's safety, and they want to understand what happened to the girls three years ago.

But the more Cass tells, the more Abby wonders what the truth is. Her initial suspicions about all not being right in the household where the girls grew up returns with a vengeance, and Abby wonders what Cass is hiding, and whether she's trying to lead them somewhere, to someone, but is unable to say anything directly. These issues of narcissistic personality disorder are ones that Abby knows too well, and she wonders if her suspicions are true, or if she is being influenced by her own experiences.

"Not knowing, not seeing, being deceived—it makes you question everything you have come to trust. It makes you doubt your own judgment, and the truths you have come to believe in, which sometimes are so deeply embedded, you don't even know they're there, shaping your thoughts."

What happened the night that Emma and Cass disappeared? Where is Emma now? Was their disappearance random, or was it caused by, or the result of, something else in their lives? Is Cass hiding something? Time is running out, and the FBI must figure out the truth and bring Emma home before it's too late.

I liked Emma in the Night more than I thought I would. There was a brief period a little more than a quarter into the book where I worried one of the characters would be such a huge part of the plot that I didn't think I could stand it, but I persevered, and I'm glad I did. This is a book that isn't afraid to paint its characters as not entirely sympathetic, and you're not sure what to believe and you don't know which character to root for.

Walker does a great job unraveling the plot little by little, and while some of it seemed a little too predictable, there was still enough that kept me guessing. I've never read anything by her before, but I was impressed not only with the way she generated suspense, but the in-depth attention she paid to the depiction of narcissistic personality disorder. That is something that unfortunately I've experienced, and she was right on the money with that.

This wasn't a perfect book by any means, but I enjoyed it and couldn't stop reading. Definitely a good book for a last gasp at the beach, or to occupy you during a long trip or commute. I'll definitely need to read Walker's first book now!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
September 26, 2018
4.5 Stars* (rounded up).
Crazy, Hypnotic & Downright Staggering.

"Emma in the Night" captures your attention from the first sentence. We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe. From that moment on, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Emma and Cass Tanner are sisters. Emma is 17, Cass, 15. One night they both disappear. No trace of them is found. Three years later however, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Cass’s story is far-fetched and is one her mother is unwilling to believe. Though Cass's mother, Mrs Martin isn't exactly the most reliable of characters.. then again, neither is Cass. Her story is however, investigated by the FBI, including Forensic Psychiatrist and Agent, Abby Winters, who specializes in personality disorders and specifically, narcissism. Dr. Winters uncovers much of Cass’s dysfunctional family history and also helps unravel many a mystery.

In her time away, Cass has become a grown up. She has a depth of character that defies her age and is no longer the naïve little girl her mother always thought of her as. And Cass sees things in Dr. Winters that no one else does. Whether this helps her or hurts her, is for you to find out for yourselves.

"Emma in the Night" is quite the Psychological Suspense novel. Wendy Walker has now written her second novel expertly intertwining a mystery/suspense novel with a psychological thriller involving forensic psychiatry that stupefies its readers. Every second captivates. And through most of it, I was none the wiser. There were a few moments that I had figured out but for the most part this was a complicated and truly compelling novel and the characters were juxtaposed within it brilliantly.

Dr. Winters is an intricate and convoluted character whose thoughts and ideas I was excited to unlock. Cass is a tortured soul whose strength of character, brilliance and sheer fortitude had me glued to every word she uttered. And Emma's wickedness had me laughing during the most inappropriate of times. In the end, every phrase and every moment of this novel had me awaiting the stunning conclusion.

You might have thought it improbable for Wendy Walker to hit it out of the park again after her brilliant first novel, "All Is Not Forgotten" but I can tell you that SHE DID IT!! "Emma in the Night" is bright, brilliant, captivating & intricate. It weaves a web you don't want to get out of.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Wendy Walker for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 5.15.17

*Will be published on Amazon on 8.8.17.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
July 21, 2018
This was one of the hardest reviews for me to write.....I wish I would have loved this one more!

My absolute favorite genre or type of book to read is a psychological suspense/thriller novel as I am totally fascinated in the way that some people think, feel, or behave.  I also like to challenge myself to see if I can figure out the why and who.  EMMA IN THE NIGHT was an intriguing look at Narcissist Personality Disorder and how a family is ultimately affected by it.
Why I wanted to read this one…….I was really excited and jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of WENDY WALKER’S new book, EMMA IN THE NIGHT, as I ABSOLUTELY LOVED her previous novel, ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN, and it was one of my favourite reads of 2016.

What it’s all about…...One night two teenage girls, Emma and her younger sister Cass go missing in the middle of the night and three years later one comes back and tells her story.

What happened then for just 3 stars…...I really tried to get involved in the storyline but it just didn’t happen for me.  I don’t know if it was just because I couldn’t fully get into this story because there were quite a few distractions surrounding me while I was reading this, as I was away on vacation, or if it was just because I did get the feel of the novel early on and it started to get a little monotonous for me and just didn’t hold my interest like I would have liked.
EMMA IN THE NIGHT by WENDY WALKER is a disturbing, insightful, captivating, and a twisted psychological thriller that is filled with dysfunctional and manipulative characters.
WENDY WALKER delivers an extremely well-written read here with an interesting and unique storyline told from two different perspectives which focuses mainly on Cass and her story of what happened to her during those missing three years and Dr. Abby Winter who questions what really happened while searching for the still missing sister, Emma.
Overall, it was a mostly enjoyable, quick and easy read with a satisfying and neat ending. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. Would recommend!  
Publication date: August 8, 2017
Thank you so much to NetGalley, Wendy Walker, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book for a fair and honest review.
Review written and posted on our themed book blog Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading.

Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,783 reviews14.2k followers
August 12, 2017
This is a difficult review for me to write, simply because I don't know if I can explain exactly how I felt about this book. So here goes. I applaud this author for trying different things, her first book and this one were a little different, covering physchological issues in an original way. In this one she tackles narcissistic personality disorder, and the mainstream effects on the family, but she turns it into an unsolved mystery.

I know someone who grew up with such a mother, saw the games played, the harmful effects and the manipulations. In my opinion the author doesn't delve far enough into this issue for Cass to set things up the way she did after her return. It didn't make sense to me, and so I was doubtful of what followed. It is very slowly paced as clues are uncovered, and Cass tells her story in bits and pieces. Which also didn't make sense, because if her motivation was true, wanted her story to be believed, wouldn't she have wanted the searching to begin immediately? So much of this, for me, didn't hang together. We are meant, I think to feel sympathy for Cass, but except for her half brother, I didn't really like any of these characters. Plus, since the story was so drawn out I figured out most of it before books end.

I did keep reading though, and this can be seen as physchologically twisty. Many have loved it, and many more will. It is as I said a little different from what is out there right now, which is why I rated this a three. Just wish there had been more of some things, and less of others. Still don't think I explained this well, but this will have to do.

ARC from Netgalley.

Profile Image for Cheri.
1,800 reviews2,384 followers
August 8, 2017

”We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe.”

”Emma in the Night” begins with these words, words that reach gently in and pull you into this story, never really letting go, delaying the inevitable until the final pages.

Last year I read Wendy Walker’s ”All is Not Forgotten,” which I also enjoyed up until the very end. Mysteries, Thrillers, Psychological Suspense are not my typical genre, but every once in a while, I can enjoy the ones which are light enough that I can still manage to sleep at night, if they don’t tie my stomach in knots in the meantime.

Sisters. Two years apart, teenagers Emma and Cassandra – Cass. Emma the older at seventeen, Cass is fifteen as this story really begins, when Emma and Cass both disappear one night. The FBI investigation. The media circus that follows. The years that follow.

And then as suddenly and slowly, time has passed, the way time does when one is lost in a fog and one thing, one day blends into the next. Three years pass and one day Cass returns, but not Emma. Questions follow. The same FBI investigators become involved, including Abby Winters, a Forensic Psychiatrist, and the media circus returns.

When Cass returns, she is no longer the naïve, young girl she was the night she and Emma disappeared. She returns to her hometown, eighteen years old now, showing up at the home of her mother and step-father, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, instead of the home of her father. Abby Winters and Special Agent Leo Strauss are promptly re-assigned to this case once again, in the hopes of finding Emma. Before it’s too late. Until Emma is found, she is still be in danger.

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Cass and Abby - Dr. Winters, the details of that night when the sisters went missing are followed, slowly unravelling the many truths behind this wild and crazy, completely captivating story.

”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.”

Pub Date: 08 Aug 2017

Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press
Profile Image for Lindsay L.
679 reviews1,324 followers
August 7, 2017
3.5 stars. This was a mysteriously suspenseful novel with an intriguing storyline and excellent narration.

After reading and LOVING Wendy Walker’s previous novel, All Is Not Forgotten, I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of her latest book. Once again, Walker does a fantastic job with narration! (The way AINF was narrated was brilliant and one of my favourite aspects of the book!) This story is told from multiple perspectives, focusing mainly on 18-year-old Cass who returns home after disappearing three years prior. I felt completely captivated by Cass’ story and for most of the book my curiosity had me flipping pages as quickly as possible.

Perhaps I had set my expectations a little too high (AINF was a 5 star for me!), but I finished this book feeling slightly disappointed. The novel started off strong with a unique and captivating plot, however, by 50% of the way in, I felt that it started to drag and get a bit repetitive. The household drama became monotonous and my interest began to wane. Regardless of this feeling of repetition, I still enjoyed the way it was narrated – Walker’s talent is undeniable in that regard!

There is some extremely disturbing mental abuse and manipulation throughout this story. I felt terrible for many of the characters and what they had to endure. There is a strong focus on narcissism which I found very interesting to learn about. Walker must have done a ton of research to present such a well-constructed portrait of narcissism and the damaging trail it leaves.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and I look forward to reading more from Wendy Walker!

A big thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wendy Walker for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
October 20, 2019
this is a psychological suspense novel about two sisters; fifteen-year-old cass and seventeen-year-old emma martin, who vanish one night from their affluent connecticut neighborhood. three years later, cass returns, ringing the doorbell of her old home, whereupon she is surrounded by family, police, doctors, the media, and dr. winter, the forensic psychologist who has been obsessed with their case since the girls disappeared, all wanting to know what happened that night and where emma is.

in a real-world scenario, this book would be three pages long: girl comes home, girl tells story, police do their thing.

but that would be a boring book.

this is one of those novels more geared towards reader-manipulation and drawing out suspense than it is in procedural realism. which is not a criticism - that’s what fans of psychological suspense want - they want the experience of being cat-and-moused by the story, where answers are withheld and doled out sparingly for maximum drama. and this book definitely keeps a reader invested in the questions and turning those pages eagerly to figure out what really happened.

in that prosaic real-world, cass would stumble home and tell the police exactly what’s happened to her and how to rescue her sister, wanting to see justice done. in the world of this book, cass takes DAYS to tell her story, going off on long affectless tangents with seemingly irrelevant details, paging casually through photo albums and refusing to speak without her mother present, although she takes no comfort from her presence, and just really taking her time making with the details about where her sister is. and without giving away spoilers, i will quote from the synopsis above - dr. winter, who has been involved in the investigation since day one, realizes from cass’ explanation that: something doesn't add up, seeing the shape of a story underneath the one cass is telling, so she has to put it all together herself - what she’s being told, what she’s being “told” through subtext, insinuation, and omission, what she observed from the family when she was investigating the case years ago, and the convenient perspective she has on the situation from her own personal experiences.

you have to be willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story as a machine, because none of it would work with even a single cog or ball bearing out of alignment, and the odds are against this coincidence-laden situation happening naturally, but as a piece of entertainment constructed meticulously by an author, the journey to discovering the truth is a fun ride. that’s not to say you still won’t have questions at the end.

real spoilery questions you should stay away from unless you’ve already read the book:

if you ignore all of the “but wait…”s, it’s a really suspenseful journey of discovery. there are a lot of similarities to this book and Good as Gone, in terms of premise and slow-reveal, and there are some nice internal moments from cass as she tries to reacclimate to her old life and fulfill her agenda:

I knew they wanted to zap me into their world, magically transform me into the daughter I would have been if I had never left, the young woman who held their history the way family does, living every mundane moment together. But I could not absorb it the way they needed me to. I felt detached, like a stranger eavesdropping on the train. I did not want to be in the present with them - not without Emma, not without justice. Until I had those things, I would not let them distract me with their stories from their normal lives.

but - note to cass - you really could get your justice more quickly if you abandoned this whole stringing-along thing you’re doing. just sayin’.

there’s one other reservation, and that’s with the overall writing style. i had read the author's debut All Is Not Forgotten, and the narrative voice there was a very detached first-person, kind of humbert humberty without the... proclivities, and i figured it was just a tic of that character, but now i think it’s more of an authorial tic. although it is much softer than the voice of AINF, there’s still something of the clinically detached here. there are some moments when cass skews purple:

Waves of elation and dread rolled through my body like the ocean, each one crashing against a wall and giving way to the next.

but even her purple seems stilted.

it’s largely told in one big exposition-heavy recitation, from both of the POV characters. for a book so much about psychology, there’s little of it shown, much told. or taught. there’s plenty of diagnosis - we learn about several disorders, but in clinical terms, without much insight, or insights that read more like notes from case studies than these supposedly living, breathing characters. in one of cass' POV chapters:

…Dr. Winter told us that she had been working around the clock, tracking down her list of people from the past, people who might know something about the Pratts or . She had already spoken with some teachers and friends of both girls. They had all heard about Cass’s return and the desperate search for Emma, though so far none of them had anything to add that was helpful. They had been shocked to hear the truth about why we left home.

the use of “both girls” and “cass” in an otherwise first-person account is a bit alienating, pushing the reader out of first person and at arm’s length.

there are occasional bursts of description that really work:

I think there are two types of people. Ones who have a scream inside them and ones who don’t. People who have a scream are too angry or too sad or laugh too hard, swear too much, use drugs or never sit still. Sometimes they sing at the top of their lungs with the windows rolled down. I don’t think people are born with it. I think other people put it inside you with the things they do to you, and say to you, or the things you see them do or say to other people. And I don’t think you can get rid of it. If you don’t have a scream, you can’t understand.

but the bulk of the novel is told in a voice that keeps the reader at a distance.

i enjoyed reading the book, for sure, but i think it's one of those books whose enjoyment will fade a bit over time. most of my ratings on here are four-stars, and when i am going through my shelves here for whatever reason, i am frequently surprised at some of the books i have given four stars to. i think a lot of times i feel more positively about a book in the immediate aftermath, and then once the experience merges into the backdrop of “all the things i have read,” many of those four stars are probably closer to threes. All Is Not Forgotten was a 3.5 rounded up, this one is a 3.5 rounded down, just for balance. both books are enjoyable, and excellent summer-reading material, but they're definitely more fruity pebbles than oatmeal.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,052 reviews2,105 followers
December 29, 2017
Extract: 'Abby had not forgotten the Tanner sisters. Not for one minute of one day. The facts of the investigation had lain dormant in the shadowed corners of her mind. But that was not the same as forgetting. They were with her, even after a year of being off the case. They were in her bones. In her flesh. She breathed them in and out with every breath. The missing girls. And the theory of the case that no one else would believe. '

THE BLURB: '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.'

MY THOUGHTS: Following are two quotes from Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker which to me describe the problems I had with this book.

'A story is more than the recounting of events.' Yet this is exactly how the book is written, a simple recounting of the events.

'Her voice was steady, as if she were explaining a term paper she'd written in school.' Again to me, that is how the book read.

Imagine if you will, sitting down to a meal you have been looking forward to. It is your favorite meal. In front of you, it looks delicious. It smells wonderful. Yet, when you take a bite, it is bland. Occasionally you get a taste of the flavors that should be there, but overall the meal is tasteless, and you feel disappointed, cheated almost.

That sums up how I felt about Emma in the Night. It was bland. Disappointing. Flat.

I am a voracious reader. Yet it took me four days to chew my way through this book. One chapter at a time. Sometimes not even that. It was a tough read.

2.5 reluctant stars - the extra half star because the premise and promise of the plot was great. I just feel that the way it was written and delivered left a lot to be desired.

Thank you to St Martins Press via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings. This review is also published on my blog https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Linda.
76 reviews176 followers
July 31, 2017

I must confess I only wanted to read "Emma In The Night," because a friend who majored in psychology had read it and thought the author did an impressive job of researching narcissistic personality disorder, which I've always wanted to have a more thorough knowledge of. Call me lucky, because another friend happened to win an advanced reader's copy and offered to lend it to me.

Since joining Goodreads, the psychological thriller and suspense genres have become two of my favorites, and I also enjoy branching out to new authors and finding unique writing styles. Wendy Walker far surpassed my standards in all these areas. It didn't matter which direction the author took me nor whose point-of-view I was reading, I never lost interest. There were many twists, turns, and surprises, and I never once saw that ending coming! Wendy Walker took a complex psychological disorder and turned it into one of the most well-written storylines I've read in these categories.

Thank you Ms. Walker for the unexpected education I received.

Highly recommend.
4.5 stars
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
July 25, 2017

The Tanner sisters have been gone three years now....and no one knows why the teens left or where they are, but I think you'll understand a bit of the WHY after you meet their CRAZY mixed-up family....especially Mother...and her moods.

Cassandra....who shockingly turns up out of the blue is emphatic.....they must find Emma!!!....so FBI Special Agent Leo Strauss and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Abigail Winter are immediately called back in to work the case....to interview Cass....and to piece together what actually happened the night they disappeared.

EMMA IN THE NIGHT serves up a toxic mix of family members who each play an intricate part in a manipulative game of secrets and lies desperate to accomodate their own personal agendas....AND to make matters even more interesting, Dr. Abby reveals a few ghosts in her closet as well.

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for j e w e l s.
315 reviews2,418 followers
October 2, 2017
Emma and Cass have a strange relationship with their mother. For starters, they are required to call her Mrs. Martin, not mom. WHY? That will get your suspicious mind working overtime!

Mrs. Martin is a narcissistic, self-involved mother and she’s not the only weirdo in this dysfunctional family. The two sisters have an overprotective half-brother, a weepy-wimpy father, an out-of-control stepbrother and a stepfather that likes to cross personal boundaries within the family. WHEW! I’d run the hell away from that house too!

When Cass returns home after she and her sister have been missing for three years, she is alone. What happened to Emma? The FBI are all over the case and continue to grill Cass with a forensic psychologist, Abby, leading the interviews. The entire story is told in alternating, somewhat confusing views: a first person narrative coming from Cass and a third person narrative from Abby. Coincidentally, Abby the expert, grew up with a sister, too, and their own mother was a textbook narcissist. She knows firsthand what Cass and Emma may have been dealing with at home. Too many coincidences for me I don't like when authors resort to using coincidences as a plot structure.

This is not as much of a suspense story as it is an overly long definition of the narcissistic personality type. I learned more than I ever thought I would about the disorder. For starters, the disorder has been overlooked by the courts when it is a woman suffering from it. And especially overlooked when that woman is a mother. Very interesting.

Normally I adore the psychological suspense genre. But, if I want to study a disorder, I will pick up my old psychology textbook. Please, SHOW me the actions and develop her character into a more layered person. Showing is so much more exciting to read than telling. A book that comes to mind for expertly portraying a maternal narcissist in action is , MOTHER, MOTHER by Karen Zalickas. A biting, memorable character if ever there was one.

This book has all my favorite elements in a mystery. A BEAUTIFUL, INTRIGUING COVER, the surprise ending, unreliable narrators, and a psychological disorder at the heart of the story. As much as I wanted to love it, the book fell flat for me. The pages did not turn fast and it was ultimately disappointing.

My mind was wandering during the long descriptions of the island that Cass gives the FBI upon her return home. She relates her experiences in a straight monotone manner (for a reason, as you will find out) and it just reads that way for most of the book. I was interested to find out what happened to Emma, but my gosh, it was a slow go.

Unfortunately, if you are looking for a suspenseful mystery OR an effective psychological study, this is not the book. Many thanks to the wonderful folks at NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,191 reviews2,267 followers
December 15, 2020
3.5 ⭐️

I can see a big difference between Wendy Walker’s most recent two psychological suspense books, “Don’t Look For Me” (2020) and “The Night Before” (2019) and the two that preceded them; “All Is Not Forgotten” (2016) and this one, “Emma in the Night” (2017).

The more recent two will definitely appeal to a wider audience as the books penned earlier are deeper, darker dives into the psyches of the Victims.

In “All Is Not Forgotten” it’s rape.

In “Emma in the Night”, it’s the damage that is done when a Narcissist is parenting children. A mother who insists her own teenage daughters refer to her as “Mrs. Martin”.

For much of the book this reads like a Mother-Daughter case study-intriguing but a bit SLOW.

Three years ago, Cass and her sister, Emma disappeared in the night.

Cass has just returned without Emma, claiming that they have been held captive the entire time on an Island and that Emma is awaiting rescue.

Her story is compelling and yet forensic psychologist Abby Winter isn’t buying it.

And, neither is “Mrs. Martin”.

How reliable IS the story that Cass insists is true?

Maybe, there is no difference.”

The reveals at the end, CAUGHT ME BY SURPRISE!
And, raised my rating to 3.5 ⭐️

Another great buddy read with DeAnn, as we are making great progress reading backlist titles from favorite auto request authors! Be sure to check out her review for additional thoughts, as she is always so insightful!
325 reviews302 followers
July 31, 2017
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. 

Three years ago, high-school senior Emma Tanner and her 15-year-old sister Cassandra went missing. Investigators had little evidence to go on; all they knew was that there were two missing girls and an abandoned car at the beach. The case went unsolved, but Cass has returned home, seemingly out of thin air. She insists that Emma is still out there and she knows how to find her.

FBI psychologist Dr. Abigail Winter was haunted by the Tanner case. During the course of the investigation, she began to see shades of her own narcissistic mother in Judy Martin. She believed that the girls' mother may have been involved in their disappearance, but no one else was receptive to her theory. The case brought some of her old traumas back to the surface. Could she have been letting her personal life cloud her perception? Cass's mysterious reappearance may finally let her get some closure.

"Everyone I could ever trust, everyone you could ever trust, could betray you. It doesn’t matter who they are or whether they mean to do it. Your friends. Your husband. Your wife. Your siblings. Your child. Even your parents. Some people just do it and they don’t care. They don’t think twice about it. But others do it and they justify it in their heads so you can’t even blame them. They have their reasons."

The mother's narcissism leads to an interesting dynamic between the sisters. Each girl developed their own unique way of coping. Growing up, their home was filled with constant hostility. There was little stability in their lives because the sisters never knew which version of their mother they would wake up to. They were both desperate for their mother's love and Mrs. Martin made them earn it. She always made snide comments to remind the girls of their place in the house. She couldn't stand for her daughters to become close and potentially form an alliance against her, so she set out to drive a wedge between them. Emma was one of the only people Cass could depend on, but she could also be extremely cruel, rubbing their mother's favoritism in Cass's face.

I think there are two types of people. Ones who have a scream inside them and ones who don’t. People who have a scream are too angry or too sad or laugh too hard, swear too much, use drugs or never sit still. Sometimes they sing at the top of their lungs with the windows rolled down. I don’t think people are born with it. I think other people put it inside you with the things they do to you, and say to you or the things you see them do or say to other people. And I don’t think you can get rid of it. If you don’t have a scream, you can’t understand.

Cassandra shares a name with a figure from Greek mythology, a princess of Troy who had "the gift of prophecy but the curse that her prophecies would never be believed." Cass shared that same burden during her parents' custody battle. She knew that living with her mother and stepfather would end badly for everyone involved, but she learned the hard way that "seeing the future is a worthless gift if you don't have the power to change it." Emma talked Cass into testifying against their mother, but in a cruel twist, Emma ended up siding with their mother. Mrs. Martin easily won custody of the girls and would never forgive Cass's betrayal. Cass lost her status in the home and Emma became the preferred daughter.

A story is more than the recounting of events. The events are the sketch, the outline, but it is the colors and the landscape and the medium and the artist’s hand that make it what it is in the end. I had to be a good artist. I had to find talent where none existed and this story in a way they would believe. I had to set aside my own feelings about the past. ... I had to be the person they wanted me to be.

The chapters alternate between Cass and Dr. Winter. Throughout the book, Cass reveals the events of the last three years. She insists that her mother is present to hear every detail. There’s something strange about the way Cass tells her story. The emotions she displays don't always match the events she's describing. Her demeanor is calm as she describes the last three years in horrifying detail. Her storytelling is very precise and polished. Sometimes Cass comes across like a child, but other times she seems wise beyond her years. Occasionally, Cass glances at Dr. Winter and there's a flicker of recognition between them. Dr. Winter begins to wonder if she needs to begin paying more attention to the things that aren't being said.

I read the first 40% in one sitting, but I had a hard time settling back into the story the next day. I think it's because all the different elements are jumbled together, regardless of whose chapter you're in: the search for Emma, Dr. Winter's backstory, the story Cass is telling the detectives, and the story she's telling the reader. Not being able to maintain that immersion is sometimes a dealbreaker for me, but Walker's writing still captivated me. I value a story where the author takes me from feeling one way about a character to feeling completely opposite by the end of the story. Despite the messed up things that went on in Cass's home, I found her demeanor a bit off-putting at first. There was a moment when I began understanding her behavior and motivations (right or wrong), and that's when this story started to worm its way into my heart.

There is evil in the world and that evil can dress up as love so convincingly that it blinds you to the truth.

Cass describes herself as "a bird on the battlefield." She spent her entire life being caught between forces much more powerful than herself. She's been let down by all the adults in her life. Anyone who listened to her was powerless to do anything. Cass has to be the person everyone wants her to be in order to get the people with power to finally listen to her. Could this be her one chance to finally be heard? Is she even telling the truth? Will the investigators find Emma in time? This stirring tale shows how easily our perceptions can be manipulated and how sometimes people have to be tricked into seeing the truth. Just like a narcissist has to create a perfect alter ego to protect themselves, sometimes we have to find ways to maintain the realities we've constructed to prevent our worldview from being shattered.

The more literary writing style of this book reminded me of Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia. If you're looking for more books with narcissistic mothers, you might enjoy Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas.

I received this book for free from Netgalley and St. Martin's Press. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It will be available August 8, 2017.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,854 reviews1,644 followers
December 11, 2017
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 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.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable novel from Wendy Walker and my first read by her. I do actually own a copy of All Is Not Forgotten - her first novel - but have, for some reason, neglected to read it. At the beginning I really was hesitant about the writing style; each chapter it jumped back and forth from the point of view of Cass and then back to the viewpoint of Dr. Abigail Winter - a forensic psychiatrist working on the Tanner's case. However, when I had reached the 25% read point I knew I was starting to get into it and in fact admired the unusual writing style for the uniqueness it brings to the book. I am hoping that when I go to read All Is Not Forgotten that it is written in the same style!

I would be more likely to describe the story as a family drama, deception plays a big part but there are also thriller elements to it as well as mystery. This family is extremely dysfunctional in most part owing to psychological issues a lot of the characters are suffering from. The psychological aspect of the novel greatly appealed to me having studied and read many books and articles relating to the subject. In particular, the book focuses in on narcissistic personality disorder, its causes, effects and how it can destroy entire families at a time unless the cycle is broken.

I enjoyed the family dynamic and the characters. I found it difficult to admire any of the characters due to them all being so unlikable but found them fascinating and wouldn't change a thing about them. They were well developed especially the main family members - Emma, Cass and Mrs Martin. This book is very much character driven in nature but has an engaging story to accompany the excellent person-centric features. I found EMMA IN THE NIGHT much more engaging than other novels based around the drama of family life and feel that all the different aspects of the story came together well to make a fabulously suspenseful read.

Inevitably, because of the type of book it is you find yourself guessing the plot twists and admittedly there were some of them in here that were a little predictable and that i had guessed before they actually occurred. That said, this did not reduce the joy I got out of this fantastic novel.

Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,250 reviews642 followers
September 19, 2017
Three years after she and her sister, 17 y old Emma, disappeared, Cass Tanner turns up on her mother's doorstep. The FBI had concluded that Emma had committed suicide and Cass, then aged 15, had run away but Cass has a very different tale to tell, one of abduction and enforced imprisonment. All she wants now is for the FBI to find Emma. She can describe perfectly the place they were held and the people who took them. But the FBI psychologist, Abby Winter, assigned to the case from the start has a feeling something is not right. She can't understand why Cass has come back home when her family is so dysfunctional, with a mother who plays mind games and doesn't care much for her, and a step-father and step-brother who have made the girls life difficult. Is Cass playing some sort of game with them all?

This is a story of obsession and jealousy, mental illness, not-so-blended families at war and ultimately revenge. Written from the alternating points of view of Abby and Cass, the past is gradually revealed as the FBI try to find Emma. The pace is good, gradually introducing the characters and revealing their relationships and then ramping up the tension once many of the secrets are revealed. I enjoyed the different approach and style of this suspenseful psychological thriller. 4.5★

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher St Martin's Press for a copy of the book to read and review
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,363 followers
August 12, 2017
What to say? What to say? I can see glaring flaws in Emma in the Night, but still it had me riveted. So 4 stars for readability, but I do understand lower ratings and negative reactions to this book. To my surprise, given the topic, I really liked Wendy Walker's previous book, All Is Not Forgotten, so I was happy to give her newest book a try. She knows how to put a complicated story together. She knows not to dumb down to her readers. After having disappeared for three years, 18 year old Cass comes home telling a tale about running away with her sister Emma and being held captive on an island. She comes home pleading for Emma to be rescued. The story is told from Cass' perspective and from the perspective of Dr. Abigail Winter who specializes in narcissistic personalities and suspects all is not as Cass tells. I won't say anything more to avoid spoilers. As I mentioned, Walker is a great story teller. This is a story with many twists and turns, and while I had a sense of where things were going, I certainly didn't guess it all. The rational -- or is it whiny? -- voice in my head is saying there was a bit too much plot, a few loose ends and inconsistencies, and too many despicable characters. But, who am I fooling? I was glued to this one and it was a completely satisfying summer read. It kept me really interested -- even as I shook my head a few times. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
Want to read
May 18, 2017
Loved this author's last book!
*Arc kindly provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Holly  B .
851 reviews2,023 followers
June 20, 2017
Emma has vanished and hasn't been seen for 3 years.

I was really enjoying the beginning of the book and was interested in the premise (a kidnapping, a mystical abandoned island, secrets ), but then at about 50% the story seemed to repeat itself and the conversations were too in depth to keep my interest up!

It was like reading about an episode on Dr. Phil and then I was just bored. I just wanted the book to be more interesting!

In the end, we learn about Emma and find out about the motives for the different players in the story. It was quite a revealing ending, but ultimately I had lost interest.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the arc.
Profile Image for Sarah Joint.
445 reviews987 followers
August 7, 2017
This is not yet another "missing girl" story. This is a tale about a twisted family with a startling conclusion, a well-written story that'll have you questioning everything.

Two sisters have been missing for three years. Were they abducted? Did they drown on the beach where the car belonging to the older sister was found? Did they simply run away? No one knows... until the younger sister, Cass, fifteen when she vanished, reappears on her mother's porch as if she'd never been gone at all. Alone.

Cass is beside herself. She insists that she's left Emma behind and they need to find her. She tells a story that sounds insane, but eventually there's evidence that backs her up. Apparently she'd been on an island, taken there by an older couple and not permitted to leave. She says that she was both treated as family and like a prisoner, and most disturbingly... Emma is still there.

Chapters alternate from the perspective of Cass and the calmer, more mature forensic psychiatrist on the case: Dr. Abby Winter. She'd become borderline obsessed with the case years ago and jumps at the opportunity to speak to the teenager she spent so much time trying to find. She spent a lot of time trying to figure out the family. Having experience with her own narcissistic mother, she's convinced Mrs. Martin, mother to the girls, suffers from the personality disorder as well. She identifies with Cass and Emma, but there's something that's bothering her as interviews with Cass continue.

This book features a lot of interesting yet disturbing themes that might still be rolling around in your head long after you put it down. It was actually a slow read for me, maybe because of that. Still an enjoyable book.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and St Martin's Press, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
617 reviews20.5k followers
July 22, 2017
This book captivated me from beginning to end!

Three years ago Emma (17) and her sister Cass (15) disappeared without a trace and left behind many unanswered questions: Did they drown? Are they alive?  Have they been kidnapped? Questions nobody has the answer to until one day Cass returns and what happened is unraveled piece by piece.

This is a fascinating psychological thriller. It is told from the alternating points of view of Cass, the girl that reappeared; and from the FBI psychologist Dr. Abby Winter. Both characters are well-drawn and reveal the puzzle one piece at a time in an intriguing, carefully-crafted way.

Overall, I loved this book! It's brilliant and the author did an amazing job at creating and maintaining suspense throughout the novel. I also loved her previous novel All is Not Forgotten and this one is just as good if not even better. Highly recommend it!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Wendy Walker for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Review posted on Goodreads, blog and NetGalley

About the author:
Profile Image for DeAnn.
1,359 reviews
December 16, 2020
3.5 narcissist stars

This one is all about two missing sisters. The story picks up when Cass returns by herself 3 years after disappearing. Where is her older sister Emma and what was happening for those 3 years?

We get flashbacks of life for the sisters before they disappeared and then Cass is telling the story to her parents and the FBI. This is one dysfunctional family! I also enjoyed the perspective from the FBI forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter. She’s an expert on narcissism and the author really took the time to explain that here and the implications of being raised by a narcissistic parent.

Soon the hunt is on to track down Emma and to figure out if Cass is telling the truth about the last 3 years of being held captive. Her story is far-fetched and some, especially her mother, don’t believe it. I must admit I was surprised by the ending! This one took a while to develop, but it was an enjoyable escapism read for me. I did find there to be quite a few characters to keep track of and a few times I was lost!

This book was a good backlist read from one of my go-to authors, Wendy Walker. Her most recent book “Don’t Look for Me” was a 5-star read for me. I can see how this author’s writing has really matured and likely become more popular with a wider range of readers. Thanks to Jayme for another buddy read and for keeping our list populated with good ones to discuss! Be sure to check out her review as well.

Thank you my wonderful local library for the Kindle version of this one.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,395 reviews4,906 followers
March 14, 2021

Three years ago the Tanner sisters, fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma, vanished.

Emma's car, containing her purse and keys, was found at the beach - but all of Cass's personal belongings were still in the house. What could have happened?

FBI Agent Leo Strauss heads the investigation.....

.....assisted by forensic psychologist, Dr. Abby Winter.

Dr. Winter senses that's something's 'off' about the girls' family - especially the mother (Mrs. Martin).

The psychologist wants to look more closely at the parents, but is discouraged by Strauss - who has other ideas about the case. In any case, the girls aren't found.

Now, three years after her disappearance, Cass shows up at her family's front door - and Agent Strauss and Dr. Winter are back on the case with the full force of the FBI.

Cass tells a harrowing story. She says a married couple named Bill and Lucy held the girls prisoner on an island. Cass explains that a boatman named Rick periodically brought supplies - food, clothing, books, DVDs, and so on.....and that the island house had a satellite dish and television.

With long and careful planning Cass was able to escape, and is now desperate for the authorities to find Emma.

Cass goes on to say that Bill and Lucy treated the girls (more or less) like 'family': they all ate together, played board games, did chores, etc. Moreover the girls were homeschooled and not sexually abused. However, they were not allowed to leave! Luckily, Cass was eventually able to get away.

When questioned, Cass tells the FBI how she and Emma came to be on the island, describes the location/geography of the isle as best she can, details all aspects of life on the island, and works with a sketch artist to draw the suspects. The FBI goes full out to try to identify the perps, find the island, and rescue Emma.

The book is told from the alternating points of view of Cass and Dr. Winter. In Cass's chapters - which take the form of an 'internal monologue' - she talks about growing up in her family, the twisted interactions among family members, and how this affected herself and Emma.

In Dr. Winter's chapters, the psychologist (and Agent Strauss) go over Cass's story, and the doctor decides that some parts sound sketchy.

Dr. Winter also concludes that Cass's mom has narcissistic personality disorder, which means that - to maintain her feelings of superiority - Mrs. Martin is compelled to manipulate and control everyone around her. This makes for an extremely toxic family dynamic.

The story has an array of additional characters, including: Mr. Tanner - the girls' biological father; Witt - Mr. Tanner's son from a previous marriage; Mr. Martin - the girls stepfather; Hunter - Mr. Martin's son from a previous marriage; and Lisa - the school guidance counselor. All of them play an important part in the story. Let's just say, the book's conglomeration of attractive females and various males.....spells trouble.

The book held my attention and I was immersed in Cass's stories about what she and Emma experienced growing up, and what happened to them on the island. I was also intrigued by Mrs. Martin's mental illness, and dismayed to see how far she'd go to preserve her inflated - and precarious - self-esteem. In the story, Dr. Winter notes that girls who grow up with a narcissistic mother tend to repeat the destructive behavior, and I wondered if Cass and Emma were irretrievably damaged. There are some surprising elements in the book, and I liked these twists.

On the downside, I think that Cass is too knowledgeable, cunning, and sophisticated for a girl with her life experience - and I sometimes had a hard time suspending disbelief. The story's conclusion also struck me as a bit unlikely.

All in all I think the book is an okay psychological thriller. It's very cinematic (IMO) and could probably be adapted into a good movie. I'd recommend the book to fans of psychological dramas.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,486 reviews7,782 followers
August 22, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

Oh Wendy Walker . . . . . .

Boy oh boy did a certain pig head go into this with seriously high expectations after reading All Is Not Forgotten. It’s a bummer this one didn’t work so well.

Per usual, since this is a mystery/thriller not a lot can be said without potentially ruining someone else’s good time. The basics are three years ago Emma and her sister Cass disappeared in the night. Emma’s abandoned car, purse and keys were found at the local beach. Nothing belonging to Cass was located. Fast forward to the present where Cass shows up at her house, leaving everyone asking . . . .

What follows is a wibbly-wobbly timey wimey tale of what happened to the two girls – not only during the three years since they went missing, but also about their entire upbringing . . . . .

“Aren’t I a good mother? The best mother you could ever want?”

The main problem I had with Emma In The Night was that I found it super boring. I don’t necessarily mind an unbelievable story behind a mystery and I definitely don’t mind unreliable and/or unlikeable narrators. What I do mind is feeling like a book that was barely over 300 pages was more like 500 due to the trip to Dullsville it took me on. Normally when I read a book, I’m in it - like 100000000%. Even books I hate I tend to become fully vested in for the simple fact that if I’m going to rage out, I better be able to explain what made me ragey. When I find myself taking breaks to put another load of laundry in the machine or start thinking about what sounds good for dinner, it’s not a great sign.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,488 reviews843 followers
September 15, 2017
“A war had begun in our home, and it would not end until the night we disappeared. Hunter had not wanted to defeat Emma, because defeat meant the war was over. And Hunter never wanted anything with Emma to be over.”

Emma and Cass are sisters who disappeared suddenly at the ages of 17 and 15. Three years later, Cass has returned and tells us her story. Other voices chime in, but mostly it’s Cass or Abby, an FBI forensic psychologist who’s been investigating the disappearance and is still looking for the truth.

The girls are the daughters of a manipulative mother and a discarded father. Mother Judy is a self-proclaimed femme fatale, evidenced by her tempting their father away from his first wife and son, and replacing them with a stronger, wealthier man and his handsome son.

The divorce was bitter, and Judy was so mad at Cass for saying she wanted to stay with their father (Emma said they should feel sorry for him being all alone), that from then on, Cass was to call Judy “Mrs. Martin”, not Mother.

Spiteful, much? As Cass tells us their story, she always refers to Mrs. Martin and Mr. Martin, which I found unrealistic. Sometimes she says “my mother”, but usually it’s like this, describing a fight.

“Mrs. Martin was stronger than I had ever imagined,. . . ”

She and Emma were 11 and 13 at the time of the divorce. I don’t believe an 11-year-old would change her thoughts to “Mrs. Martin” instead of “Mom” even if she changed her speech.

But, it was a strange set-up and a weird household. They adored their half-brother, Witt, who used to visit regularly when their dad was part of their lives but whom they seldom saw after their dad moved out.

Mr. and Mrs. Martin liked to go to the club, where she could flirt and party, while the girls were left on their own. Witt didn’t see his half-sisters very often after the remarriage, but when he did, he told them that their life was not normal. It’s weird that they are raising themselves.

It is weird. Add a hormonal, teen-aged stepson, and it gets weirder. Mother-Mrs Martin-Judy doesn’t like the way Mr Martin and his son Hunter are eyeing Emma, who’s tarting herself up and enjoying stealing the limelight from her mother. Judy blows hot and cold with Emma. Best friends one minute, cat fights the next.

And Emma does the same with Hunter – flirting and snuggling and smoking pot together one minute, then taunting him with some new boyfriend the next. It’s a very unhealthy set of intersecting, competing relationships, and Cass watches it all unfold. She sees Emma is as manipulative as their mother.

She tells us how Emma plays off everyone against each other, encouraging lustful glances from father and son to the fury of her mother. Mother is quite happy to be as sexy as possible in front of Hunter and eventually, one night, both girls disappear.

Cass explains how someone survives for three years away.

“No matter where we are and what we are subjected to, we will eventually settle into the new reality and try to find pleasure, even if it is nothing more than a warm shower or food or even a glass of water.”

So what happened? I was just curious enough to read to the end, which I didn’t guess.

The only character I liked at all was the older investigating officer who was working with Abby, the psychologist whose role seems mainly to be to feed us information about narcissism and other mental conditions. Special Investigator Leo Strauss was the older guy I didn’t mind, probably because we see so little of him.

Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted (so quotes may have changed).
Profile Image for Sue.
2,731 reviews225 followers
November 27, 2022
This is a book that I was “always meaning to get to” I’m sure many of you relate?

It’s about a psychological disturbed family. There is so much going on in this house it’s unreal.

Having a pathological Mother, a narcissist would maybe when you get to be an adult and/or have children of your own….make you wonder about yourself and your own motives?

Emma in the Night had me strung along right at the beginning and I was more than willing to get tied up into its distorted views, it was like ivy clinging to me, tying me up and not allowing me to move, winding it’s way into my day. I just needed to keep on reading, I couldn’t break out of its spell.

The characters in here were so vividly real to me.
I could “watch” this in Technicolor in my mind.

Wendy Walker is an auto buy for me now. I’ve read a couple of her books and really enjoy my time with her characters, good, bad or indifferent.

I’m very late to the table with this one. So if it’s passed you by or reminded you that you wanted to read it, let me know how and what you felt about Emma in the Night.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,718 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.