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All booksMysteryEmma in the Night
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night

by Wendy Walker

Quick take

"I love an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that feels authentic, current, and keeps you up way too late at night."

Krysten Ritter is the star of Netflix's Jessica Jones

Why I love it

Krysten Ritter
Guest Judge

I love an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that feels authentic, current, and keeps you up way too late at night. Throw in a little teenage angst, an unpredictable mystery, and unsettling family dysfunction, and I am IN.

Emma in the Night slams open with the reappearance of 18-year-old Cass Tanner, one of the two missing and previously presumed dead Tanner sisters, three years after they both vanished. But her homecoming is far from joyful. Cass’s return forces her entire family to look back on the time when she and Emma vanished, and the disturbing events that precipitated their disappearance.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of the recovered Cass Tanner and forensic psychologist Dr. Abby Winter. Cass’s side of the story, a tale of captivity, a stolen baby, and an escape from a mysterious island, seems both more guarded and more calculated than a traumatized kidnapping victim’s account should be.

Dr. Abby Winter can’t help but notice the major holes in Cass’s story. As Abby becomes more and more skeptical, she also becomes more emotionally invested in finding the truth. As she delves deeper into the case, she glimpses similarities between the girl's mother and her own mother—and based on her personal experiences, begins to believe the dysfunction in the Tanner family may have intergenerational roots.

Dealing with themes of unconditional love, mental illness, incest, and revenge, Wendy Walker’s taut and fast-paced writing masterfully unveils the broken backstory behind an unhappy family. Each and every one of the characters is flawed, surprising, complex, and dynamic—so much so that their overarching story hits you at a gut level.

Emma in the Night starts with many unanswered questions that slowly resolve, ramping up to the biggest and final mystery: What really happened to Emma? Once you think you have the story figured out from Cass’s perspective, another idea or discovery from Winter changes your mind completely, keeping you reading and guessing until the final satisfying page.

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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.

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Member thoughts

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All (6613)
Love (3038)
Like (3182)
Dislike (393)
6788 ratings
  • 45% Love
  • 47% Like
  • 6% Dislike
  • Montgomery, AL

    The storyline reached out & grabbed my attention with the 1st paragraph. There were parts of the story that are hard to believe, but that’s why its classed as “fiction” rather than a “true story.”

  • Oriental, NC

    I love this book. I really enjoyed reading it. It effectively showed the anatomy of a dysfunctional family. The story had me sitting at the edge of my seat at all times. There were plenty twists and turns

  • New York , NY

    Compelling and engrossing, perfect flow that doesn’t reveal everything right away, but also doesn’t keep reminding you every other page that there’s more to the story. I did not predict the ending!

  • Oak Harbor , WA

    Amazing book!!! I couldn’t put it down and the end threw me for a loop. I learned a lot about narcissistic personality as well. It was nice to be entertained and educated at the same time. Recommend!

  • Hemet, CA

    By the time I put it down I just took time to process it for about a week. I wanted more! I wanted to know the other side too! I would’ve never guessed the ending, few thrillers have done that for me.

  • Freeport, ME

    Very difficult to put down! I was pulled into Cassie’s and Abby’s worlds and found myself needing to find Emma too. Amazing character development without bogging down the pages. Highly recommended!

  • Tujunga, CA

    I was very intrigued with the storyline when I chose this book. It didn't disappoint. There were twist and turns with nail biting suspense. I'm very good at figuring out the ending but not this time!!

  • Delaware, OH

    By far my favorite book I've gotten! This book is one I'd read over and over again! I instantly fell in love with it & read it in 2 days! Strong storyline & amazing characters!! You won't be let down!

  • Burlington, WI

    Good story, good reveal at the end! However, I felt like there wasn't one character that you really felt close to - it wasn't Cass or Abby - maybe it was actually more Emma than the ones you'd expect.

  • New Milford, CT

    An amazing novel that not only makes you think about your own family dynamics. But it immerses the reader deep into an exciting mystery that leaves you floored in the end. I read it in two sittings.

  • Melbourne, FL

    This one came out of nowhere. Just enough suspense you keep you invested and not so much that it's unbelievable. The beginning will capture you. The middle will hurt you. And the end will surprise you

  • San Mateo, CA

    I loved this book. It was the perfect thriller/mystery and had me turning pages faster with each chapter. It was an unexpected plot twist. The ending made me cry and good endings are my favorite part!

  • Allen, TX

    This book was so fantastic I could not put it down for the 2 days it took me to read it! The whole time I can tell that something else is going on but I just keep waiting for Wendy Walker to write it!

  • Charlotte, NC

    Emma in the night was a thrilling book, with a huge twist that I didn't see coming. It's similar to Gone Girl in that you will be completely shocked by the unraveling of the main character. Great read

  • Oak Park, IL

    Captivating from the start. There were pieces that I suspected along the way and I thought it would give away the ending. These were accurate but led to a different ending than I expected. Great story

  • Kansas City, MO

    As the daughter of a narcissistic mother, this book DESTROYED me. I had no idea how much this story would hit home and validate someone like myself. I have recommended this book to my therapy clients!

  • York, PA

    This was my favorite BOTM so far. A page-turning thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire story up until the last page, and had me wanting more after it was over. Incredible pick!

  • Pontiac, MI

    I didn't see the ending coming at all. It kept my attention and kept me guessing. I usually love mysteries and thrillers so the fact that the end caught me off guard is an unusual but welcomed change.

  • New York, NY

    I was surprised by how much I loved this because I usually hate switching between 1st & 3rd person but this is compelling & suspenseful enough to keep me going. Loved the dark mother/daughter dynamic!

  • Hudson, WI

    Mastery of the slow-unfold plot. So much momentum and so much pain. The cerebral/psychological untangling between Abby and Cass is perfectly wrought and we just have to wait for the two minds to meet.

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