Title: How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A page-turner about the murder of a teenage girl, from the author of Lacy Eye.
On a cold December day in northern upstate New York, the body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy’s mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy’s best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town’s police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy’s death.
How Will I Know You? by Jessica Treadway is an engrossing mystery about the murder of a teenage girl and the impact her death has on her family, friends and the local community.
Following her disappearance after an argument with her mother, Susanne, everyone beleives Joy Enright accidentally drowned in a local pond. Weeks later, her body is discovered in the woods and the autopsy reveals she was strangled. Eyewitness reports and police interviews lead interim police chief Doug Armstrong to arrest grad student Martin Willett. At the behest of Susanne, Armstrong’s son-in-law Tom Carbone is running a parallel investigation into Joy’s murder and the information he uncovers casts suspicion on the entire police investigation. Joy’s childhood best friend, Harper Grove, also plays a prominent role in the Willett’s arrest but can her version of events the day Joy was murdered be trusted?
A sculptor and professor at the nearby art college, Susanne cannot help but feel guilty for her role in the series of events that led up to Joy’s murder. Their once close relationship had rapidly deteriorated in the months preceding Joy’s death and Susanne is quite contemplative as she tries to pinpoint the reason for reason for the changes in her daughter’s behavior. Susanne’s marriage to husband Gil is also on shaky ground due to betrayals from both partners and the added strain of Joy’s murder might be too much for their marriage to bear. Can they manage to repair their fractured bond in the in the aftermath of such a horrific loss?
Tom Carbone is caught between loyalty to his wife and father-in-law and uncovering the truth about Joy’s murder. Initially believing Martin is involved in the teenager’s death, Tom soon discovers shocking information about Joy that could destroy his already precarious relationship with his in-laws and ultimately, his marriage. Already reeling from stunning revelations about those closest to him, Tom questions whether or not he can trust his judgment after he learns unexpected news that could turn the investigation in a new direction. What will Tom do with this information that will have lasting repercussions on his loved ones?
During her interview with police chief Armstrong, Harper makes a decision that she immediately regrets but finds impossible to undo as events begin to snowball out of control. Soon realizing rectifying her mistake could have devastating consequences not only for the investigation but her family, she continues to wrestle with her guilt. Harper also tries to pinpoint why her friendship with Joy began to fall apart in the months leading up to her friend’s murder. Although she easily forgives some of Joy’s behavior, she also feels deeply betrayed by some her friend’s actions. Harper cannot help but feel she could have done more to save Joy’s life but is her assumption correct?
Martin Willett is immediately a person of interest in the investigation but is there any evidence to back up Armstrong’s suspicions? He is certainly guilty of making a few bad decisions in the months before Joy’s murder but did the police chief rush to judgment? Martin’s brief interactions with Joy and his connection to Susanne provide Armstrong with legitimate reasons to look at him more closely but in his zeal to close the case, did he give the investigation into her murder the attention it deserved? Is Martin’s arrest based on evidence or is his arrest racially motivated?
Weaving back and forth in time and written from four distinct points of view, How Will I Know You? is a disquieting novel that is part mystery and part character study. Secrets and lies are slowly revealed over the course of the investigation as each of the characters reflect on the roles they might have played in the events leading up to Joy’s murder. Jessica Treadway masterfully conceals the murderer’s identity and the motive for the crime right up until the novel’s stunning conclusion. I highly recommend this poignant and thought-provoking mystery to readers of the genre.