Book review: How Will I Know You by Jessica Treadway

Saturday, December 17, 2016 Permalink

Jessica Treadway’s If She Did It (aka Lacy Eye) was published here in Australia in early 2015. It was a book I adored and couldn’t put down. Better still it had a kinda shocking ending. Which I hate to love. Or love to hate. Whatever…

Treadway’s latest is another attention-grabber, but though enjoyable, didn’t have quite the same addictive pull as its predecessor.

Book review: How Will I Know You by Jessica TreadwayHow Will I Know You?
by Jessica Treadway
Published by Sphere
on December 6th 2016
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 0751555290, 9780751555295
Pages: 416

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.

Treadway delivers this tale through a number of her characters, including Harper and Susanne as well as Martin and the police chief’s son-in-law (and occasional investigator) Tom. Interestingly Martin’s narration is in first person, kicking off with a diary of sorts, while the rest are delivered in third person.

I normally don’t mind head hopping however here – in retrospect – although the novel started with Harper as a lead, it became more about Tom and Susanne. And Martin in fits and starts. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I would have liked to see Harper playing more of a continuing role – particularly given her relationship with Joy and the backstory and happenings around her own mother.

There’s a lot bubbling away under the surface in this novel and Treadway introduces racism, mental illness, drugs, thwarted passion (the romantic AND creative kind) and fidelity into her tale. We learn that Joy was far more complex than either Harper and Susanne realised. She had many secrets – most of them bad. And there was a sense of frustration for we readers as we discover the ‘what’ and ‘why’: we’re reminded of our propensity to judge and inclination to expect the worst of people.

Treadway seems tempted to leave this crime up in the air, an unsolved case with secrets and corruption and prejudice boiling over and impacting on everyone involved. I guess happily ever after isn’t something we can really expect in a novel in which a teenage girl loses her life.

I think Treadway’s first novel probably influenced my perception of this as I expected a little more than was delivered, but it’s still a very good read.

How Will I Know You by Jessica Treadway was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


  • Stormi D Johnson
    December 18, 2016

    Sounds like a book for my wishlist. 🙂

    • Debbish
      December 18, 2016

      Good to hear Stormi. You’d enjoy your first as well if you’ve not read it (called Lacy Eye in the US).

  • Greg Hill
    December 18, 2016

    Ooh this looks good! A murder or an accident? Always love those! And the fact that Joy was complicated (as everyone is)- sounds very compelling, even if it didn’t quite match the first one.

    • Debbish
      December 18, 2016

      Oh yes it is good… I felt like I needed to explain why I was disappointed and it really was more of a ‘relativity’ thing!

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