In Upstate New York the body of teenager Joy Enright is found strangled to death. She had been presumed drowned until her body appeared in a wooded area at the edge of a pond. As the investigation develops, four characters tell the story from four completely different perspectives prior to and in the aftermath of Joy’s death. Harper, Joy’s best friend and one of the last people to see her before her death; Tom, the son-in-law of the police chief and husband of Joy’s English teacher; Martin, an African American graduate art student and the only murder suspect; and Susanne, Joy’s mother and teacher at the local art college.
Susanne’s secrets lead investigators to Martin, one of the few African American’s in the small town. Martin is immediately placed under arrest because of his connection to Susanne and Joy, but is he the one that killed Joy Enright? What motives did he have? The Chief of Police is certain Martin is guilty, especially with Harper’s testimony, but that doesn’t stop his son-in-law, Tom, from doing some investigating of his own. Joy’s murder is the catalyst to an abundance of revelations that have been slowly simmering under the surface of the small town, and Tom may just find out the truth.
This was truly a suspenseful read from beginning to end. The multiple POV’s helped to slowly piece the story together while slowly building the tension. I haven’t read any of her previous novels, but it is clear that Jessica Treadway has a way with getting into the minds of her characters and making them unique. Her writing is very emphatic, I felt so wrapped up in the emotions of each character that it was almost too easy to get through the book quickly!
What I loved about this thriller is that it focused on a murder case and the impact that racism can have on issues of this caliber. I may be reading the wrong books, but I haven’t read a lot of thrillers that made racial tension a main part of the story line. The honesty and explicitness was refreshing. This thriller had it all- a psychological exploration of all the characters, a portrait of a small town hung up on gossip and deceit, the complicated and morose life of a struggling teenager, and the difficulties of overcoming racial prejudice. I will definitely be reading more Jessica Treadway.