Sarah Strohmeyer amassed many loyal fans years ago with her quirky and unique mystery series starring Bubbles Yablonsky, so when it was announced that she was returning to the crime fiction fold with a new suspense novel, much rejoicing ensued. That book, Do I Know You?, will certainly satisfy both existing fans and new readers just discovering this talented author.
Do I Know You? is very different than Strohmeyer’s now-iconic cozy series. However, it shares many traits with those earlier books: idiosyncratic characters, a perfect balance of pathos and humor, clever wordplay, and a plot rooted in contemporary society.
Jane Ellison is our lead character and she has a unique ability – she is a “super recognizer,” meaning that she can remember every face she has ever seen and match that with suspects at a later date with only a fleeting glimpse. This talent has led her to work in airport security. As the novel opens, Jane is going about her daily job when she recognizes – on the arm of William Pease (partial heir to an empire) – the woman she feels is responsible for her sister’s disappearance and presumed death. The only problem is that with power comes special treatment and before she can confront Bella, they are released and headed to the family compound.
After losing her job, Jane is unable to let the whole matter go, and she and her boyfriend set out on an investigation of their own – right in the shadows of the big Pease family wedding. Of course, nothing goes to plan, but Jane on a mission is a juggernaut that will not be stopped.
The Pease Family is one for the ages – unlike most nuclear families seen in fiction (or reality, for that matter.) Their loyalty to each other and their overwhelming ambition does feel authentic for a family of their “celebrity” stature (think the Kardashians crossed with the Sackler clan), but readers will pick up on both the ick factor and the hubris surrounding them.
The fact that Jane’s sister was working at an event for the Pease family on the night she disappeared makes Jane’s obsession with the family understandable. What is rewarding is that Strohmeyer manages to place Jane in the focal position while allowing readers to question much of what she believes. Since not many readers will know – or even have heard of – “super recognizers,” the lingering doubt of its validity along with Jane’s other “issues” sets her up as a different type of unreliable narrator, one the reader feels compassion for.
Sarah Strohmeyer juggles multiple storylines throughout Do I Know You? Each reader is likely to have their own favorite or preferred storyline, however this is an author who can successfully pull them all together by the end. That ending comes with a fast and furious sequence of reveals and developments that certainly stretch credibility, while at the same time are believable enough in the world of Do I Know You? to satisfy the reader.
Readers will hope that Sarah Strohmeyer’s gap between mystery novels is not quite so long next time, now that they have been given another sample of her ability to craft compelling and addictive narratives of suspense.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.