Title: “Emma in the Night”
Author: Wendy Walker
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publication Date: August 8, 2017 (St. Martin’s Press)
My Rating: ★★★★★
All hail Wendy Walker! I loved her previous thriller, “All Is Not Forgotten,” and grabbed “Emma in the Night” immediately. (A second hail for my amazing library system, Arlington County Public Libraries — my hold arrived the day the book was released.)
Walker nails the true psychological thriller. In “Emma,” we meet Cassandra Tanner, who shows up on her mother’s doorstep three years after disappearing in the night — the same night her sister, Emma, also disappeared. But lest you think Cass will explain everything that happened, there are really screwed up family dynamics at play, and you *know* she’s lying. About some of it, or all of it, or somewhere in between.
The narration switches between Cass and Dr. Abigail Winter, a forensic psychologist with the F.B.I. who just happens to specialize in narcissistic personality disorder, which we soon learn that Cass and Emma’s mother likely suffers from. (How tortuous is it to live with a narcissistic mother? When Cass and Emma were kids, Cass begged for a trinket necklace with an angel that reminded her of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan. Emma scoffed at it. Judy, the mother, in turn purchased it for the favored Emma, who wore it every day as a twisted means to torment her sister.)
What I love about Wendy Walker and “Emma in the Night” is that she manages to carve out a unique, compelling storyline in this heyday of thrillers. It’s not cliche or overdone; nor the same topic that every other suspense writer is writing and then rewriting. The plot is fascinating and, clearly, well-researched — I learned a lot, particularly about narcissistic personality disorder.
Consider me sold. I’ll pick up anything and everything that Walker writes next.
Speaking of: I submitted a question to Wendy on Goodreads about what she’s working on next, and she responded (!). “I am busy at work on another novel and hoping to have it done this fall. It will be another psychological thriller focused on the interplay of personality disorders within a family setting.”
Your readers are waiting ever (im)patiently, Wendy!