Pages in the Wind by Sally Saylor De Smet is a page-turning psychological thriller that grabs the reader’s attention right from the start.
Emily Quinn is detained at the San Francisco County Jail after the brutal murder of her father. She has no memory of the murder or of her past. Her mother hires a world-renowned psychiatrist to help Emily recover her memories and to aid in her defense.
While under hypnosis Emily recovers countless painful revelations and family secrets. Can Emily uncover the whole truth?
The premise of the novel promises a dark and gritty story. And the author delivers. The beginning pages holds back a lot of information on the murder. The reader is aware that it occurred and that Emily will be going on trial, but the key information is unavailable, forcing the reader to fly through the pages to uncover what really happened.
The buildup to the finale is methodical. Along the way, De Smet leaves clues, some are easily recognizable, while others don’t jump off the page until the very end. It’s the hidden clues, obviously, that hold the key to the mystery and when it all comes together, the ending will not only shock most readers, it’ll disturb many and leave a lasting impression.
Human nature is many things, including dark. As the reader delves deeper and deeper into Emily’s childhood, it becomes clear that she was a victim. Yet, the knowledge that she murdered her own father makes it difficult for the reader to reconcile his or her feelings for Emily. This back and forth aids reader engagement and keeps the reader glued to the pages.
While the purpose of the meetings with the psychiatrist is to unearth the events leading up to the murder, what actually comes out of the sessions is beyond disturbing. This isn’t simply a case of child abuse and neglect. Those are factors, of course, but it’s also an excellent examination of how damaging family secrets, hidden agendas, lack of love, and controlling tendencies can completely rip apart a family.
Emily is undergoing treatment in 1966. The date is vital to the story. Back then, it was typical for teachers, neighbors, and family friends to look the other way. Emily becomes invisible to everyone and this perpetuates her belief that she really doesn’t matter. And it reinforces the idea that she should try at all costs to act normal. Reading her story is heartbreaking. But it’s more than that. It also points a finger at society. How could so much go on behind closed doors and no one noticed or said anything? The sad fact is, even today, this happens more than most would like to admit.
Pages in the Wind delves deep into psychological abuse making for uncomfortable reading at times. If you enjoy well-crafted thrillers that will make you cry, hold your breath, and ruminate, give this book a chance. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you wanting more. This is the author’s first book. Keep an eye on her. She has talent and more than likely the next book will be even better.