On the surface, Lilling appears to be a quiet, idyllic English village. But it harbors a dark mystery. In 1976, sixteen-year-old Annalise Wood disappeared. Her body was found, but her murderer was not. Decades later, a perverse kind of celebrity engulfs Annalise’s memory. She remains the focus of grief and speculation, and, for one young woman, a disturbing, escalating jealousy.
Following an on-the-job injury, Detective Morris Keene has been assigned to cold cases. When DNA linked to Annalise’s murder unexpectedly surfaces, Keene and his former partner, Chloe Frohmann, hope to finally solve the case and bring closure to a traumatized community. But the new evidence unravels was had been the only certainty. The buried body that had long ago been confidently identified as Annalise is likely someone else entirely, leaving the investigators scrambling to uncover additional evidence and answer the question of what exactly happened to Annalise. And whose body was unearthed all those years ago. Is someone interfering with the investigation? And is really there a link to a present-day drowning that appears to be eerily connected?
Author Emily Winslow introduces a succession of seemingly unrelated characters and employs alternating narrators — each somewhat unreliable in her/her own right. The action also alternates between present-day and 1976 as she peels away the layers of mystery that have surrounded Annalise’s death for four decades at expertly-timed intervals.
Annalise Williams is a troubled young woman who consults psychologist Laurie Ambrose. She is obsessed with Annalise Wood, claiming that her mother named her for the murdered girl because she was sixteen when the crime occurred. Annalise fantasizes about and co-opts details about what may have happened all those years ago, relating them to boys she dates as though her own experiences. Ironically, another patient of Dr. Ambrose’s, Hannah-Claire Finney, age 40, claims to be the daughter of the murdered girl, having been raised by her grandparents. Dr. Ambrose finds herself in an ethical quagmire, weighing what information she can and cannot share with the police without breaching her duty of patient confidentiality.
Winslow brings back Keene and Frohmann from her previous books, but Look for Her can be enjoyed as a stand-alone installment. Frohmann, on maternity leave after giving birth to her first child, a girl that she and her husband have not yet managed to name,, cannot resist assisting Keene, who is anxious to resolve a case that has been dormant for many years. After sustaining an injury that limits his ability to perform full duty, Keene needs to regain his confidence that he is a valued member of the force. Keene’s relationship with his own fifteen-year-old daughter is sweet, charming, and endearing.
Keene and Frohmann focus on different witnesses and aspects of the case, Winslow engages readers by creating complex, troubled characters whose motives and inspirations are not readily evident but ultimately make complete sense. She deftly mines the implications not only of a decades-old unsolved crime, but the manner in which the dark mystique that has surrounded it has impacted the characters. The case was a sensational one that has never been forgotten. Winslow illustrates how Keene and Frohmann, seasoned detectives, must set aside the legend and lore the crime inspired as they search for clues that will lead them to the real identity of the girl who was assumed to be and buried as Annalise, and her still-at-large killer. With unexpected plot twists, as well as few sneaky red herrings, Winslow propels the story and keeps readers guessing until the satisfying ending.