“How Will I Know You” by Jessica Treadway is not just a crime story, but is also has a psychological aspect. The storyline refers to a small town community where everyone knows everyone else’s business. This time around, Treadway decided to have multiple narrators telling the story ranging from a teenage girl, black graduate student, a middle-aged art teacher, to a policeman.
The plot begins where a high school teenager, Joy Enright, in upstate New York is found in a pond strangled to death. Martin Willett, her mother’s teaching assistant and lover has been accused of the crime. The arresting officer, interim police chief Doug Armstrong, has his own agenda for solving the crime quickly. He is hopeful that the town board will appoint him the full-time police chief.
“The premise for the book came from two places,” Treadway said. “Several years ago a family I knew went out ice-skating. They all fell under but one of the daughters slipped away and drowned in the pond. I was haunted for years by this family’s grief. Then there is a well-known murder case in Massachusetts where a mother dropped her teenage daughter off at her lifeguard job. She disappeared and was never found. I decided to make the pond the focus of the drama involving a girl who first disappears and then is found murdered. My previous novels are based on actual incidents, but this one was much more my imagination.”
Most of the characters appear to have their own set of problems. Joy wants to be part of the in-crowd and has turned into someone mean and nasty, compromising her own values. Her mother, Suzanne, is an elitist who had an affair to reconnect with her artistic self. Allison, the daughter of Doug, is a daddy’s girl who makes her husband feel inferior to her father. Each is affected by their decisions that have huge consequences.
This novel strings together small town secrets leading readers to the conclusion of the plot where the truth behind Joy’s killer is revealed. It is a study of how humans react under pressure.