Emma in the Night is a gripping psychological thriller about two girls who go missing and only one comes back. Cass and Emma both go missing from their home after a tempestuous summer- the family is pretty dysfunctional but things were really bad before they went missing- and after three years Cass turns up alive, and says she knows where Emma is. They just have to find her given the fragmentary information that Cass has. The story is told from two POV's- Cass and Abby, a forensic psychologist with the FBI. Cass tells her story as the same time as Abby tries to analyze what Cass is telling her, and put the pieces together.
Complicating matters are the family dynamics. The girls' mother Judy has narcissistic personality disorder, so this book is about personality disorders and family dynamics as much as it is about two missing girls. It's all intertwined. But it's very readable, I read this in two sittings because I just had to know. I preferred Abby's chapters frankly because of the adult perspective and her analytical approach- and to make matters even more interesting, Abby has her own family history of narcissism that she deals with- and this both informs and threatens to hamper her investigation. I thought Abby and her partner, Leo Strauss, were a high point of the story and very believable.
I've seen other reviews talk about just how dysfunctional this family is, and I have to agree. Not only is Judy very narcissistic, to the point where it affects everyone around her, but the girls have a stepfather who Judy married after cheating on their father, and a stepbrother as well. Everyone is competing for attention and to be top dog, and while I had a little bit of trouble believing everything that happened, it was still compelling. And a little scary. After all, how well do you really know someone?
Cass tells investigators that people believe what they want to believe, and that is a core theme of the book. Do people overlook things they don't want to see? Of course, and Cass' perspective is suspect because you know right away she's probably going to be an unreliable narrator. That's what made Abby's perspective so interesting- at times Abby feels almost like Cass is trying to tell her something or indicate something to her, without actually saying it. Can Abby keep up? Will she draw the right conclusions? It doesn't help that Abby still has unresolved issues left over from the initial investigation three years earlier, when the girls first disappeared. Her partner Leo and the Bureau were not entirely onboard with her theories of what happened, and things sort of died down when they were never found.
I went into this expecting a lot of Cass' story to be unreliable, so it was nice when elements of it were confirmed, making it even more curious as to who was telling the truth. I also tried to figure out the why of it but wasn't able to, there are lots of clues but you can't really get there until the end, when all the info is out. I enjoyed this a great deal, not only for the mystery but the look at narcissistic personality disorder, which I found very interesting. A great read.
i think a few of the characters would get on my nerves by the sound of it...you know what I'm like! *grins* Glad you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
They might! There was a bit of angst but not too much...Delete
Ooooh I love complicated family dynamics, even they are rather messed up ;) And I'm glad it's the kind of thriller that keeps you guessing right to the end.ReplyDelete
I adore the kind of "how well do you really know someone?" theme, so I think I'd enjoy this! Glad you did :)
Amy @ A Magical World Of Words
I do too, and this one delivered... big time! Messed up family for sure. :) And yes it did keep me guessing all the way through!Delete
I have been seeing this book everywhere. I must get my hands on a copy.It also sounds like a book that i would just gobble up.ReplyDelete
I really liked it!Delete
This sounds really interesting! I don't think I've read a book where someone had narcissistic personality disorder.ReplyDelete
I think that was a first for me too. A bit chilling.Delete
Sounds like an interesting story and I love that it wasn't predictable at all. I'm a bit turned off by the FBI view point. I'm so burned out on those perspectives. I read too many as a teen. Still, this one tempts me.ReplyDelete
It's pretty good. I haven't read very many FBI/ crime books, but I can see where you'd be tired of it if you read a lot of those. If it helps this one didn't delve too much into procedural stuff, it was more Abby trying to figure out what Cass was up to.Delete
oh wow a book about t about personality disorders and family dynamics AND missing girls!!! I AM SO IN!! Thanks for the great review Greg! :)ReplyDelete
Ooh I hope you like it. It kept me guessing. :)Delete
I think that sounds like a really well done story. I love books that make you want to figure out what is going on. The personality disorder adds an interesting element as well. Glad you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
I really liked it, and between the family dynamics (or lack thereof) and the missing girls, it was quite a page turner.Delete
I can never guess anything, lol. Or maybe I guess too muchReplyDelete
Ha ha I know wht you mean!Delete
I always like when an unreliable narrator turns out to be reliable.ReplyDelete
It was interesting, to see if she was actually reliable or not- of if part of her story didn't match up.Delete
This does sound interesting, especially with the two different perspectives you described. And it sounds like there's a lot of intense, mysterious stuff going on in this book!ReplyDelete
I really liked the interplay of Cass, who knew some things, and Abby who had been thinking about this case for three years and had suffered some career pushback because of it.Delete
This sounds so goo! I have been rediscovering mysteries and thrillers this year. I love when I can't figure out the ending!ReplyDelete
Wow, this sounds REALLY good! I love how thought provoking it seems to be, and how relevant to everyone's life it is, not just the world of the story. The dysfunctional family sounds kind of fun too! And the cover certainly sets the tone. I am definitely going to have to pick this one up. Great review!!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed this read as much as I did. That was one seriously messed up family, wasn't it?ReplyDelete
I would really like to read this one. The idea of people believing what they want to believe holds a lot of truth to it, and I'd be interested to know how that theme plays out in this book. Thank you for your insightful review, Greg!ReplyDelete
This one sounds so interesting. Your review has me convinced that i need to check it out because I want to know what happened and I haven't read the book! I am not always a fan of an unreliable narrator so I'm glad we have a second narrator to help clear up things. The switch between the two keeps it interesting but obviously helps keep the plot going as well. Glad to hear you couldn't put everything together until the end, I love a book which keeps you guessing. I'm off to see if my library has this one in stock.ReplyDelete
I have been out-of-the-usual drawn to thriller titles lately and this is the most intriguing sounding yet. Definitely putting it on my TBR!ReplyDelete
Loved your review Greg! I have this one on my TBR list, will see if I can get hold of it.ReplyDelete
Ah, looks like I missed this! But you and I seem to share a lot of the same opinions on this one. Definitely very readable! Although, I enjoyed Cass' side more. I appreciated what Abby brought to the story with her own personal history, but something about her felt somewhat dry to me ;)ReplyDelete