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I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel Hardcover – August 17, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 262 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: "Of course, you are older, a woman now.... Still, I'd know you anywhere." A cryptic letter from death row shatters Eliza Benedict's peaceful summer with her family, and forces her to face her long-buried past. Walter Bowman, the man who kidnapped Eliza the summer she was fifteen and kept her hostage for weeks, spots her picture in a local magazine and reaches out to her to make amends before his execution. I'd Know You Anywhere is a tremendous novel about fear, manipulation, and survival. Award-winning author Laura Lippman unfurls Eliza's story in tightly-written chapters alternating from present day to that horrifying summer of 1985, creating an emotionally complex drama that is as riveting as it is ultimately rewarding. --Daphne Durham

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Near the start of this outstanding novel of psychological suspense from Edgar-winner Lippman (Life Sentences), Eliza Benedict, a 38-year-old married mother of two living in suburban Maryland, receives a letter from Walter Bowman, the man who kidnapped her the summer she was 15 and is now on death row. The narrative shifts between the present and that long ago summer, when Eliza involuntarily became a part of Walter's endless road trip, including the fateful night when he picked up another teenage girl, Holly Tackett. Soon after Walter killed Holly, Eliza was rescued and taken home. Eliza must now balance a need for closure with a desire to protect herself emotionally. Walter wants something specific from her, but she has no idea what, and she's not sure that she wants to know. All the relationships, from the sometimes contentious one between Eliza and her sister, Vonnie, to the significantly stranger one between Walter and Barbara LaFortuny, an advocate for prisoners, provide depth and breadth to this absorbing story.
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Download a Q&A with Laura Lippman [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061706558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061706554
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #955,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light. Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Other reviewers have synopsized the story beautifully, and I won't add to that. Cliff Notes version: Eliza Benedict was abducted when she was 15 years old. She is now an adult leading a good life, with a loving husband and two kids with strong interesting personalities. The main trauma that remains is the question: why did her abductor let her live, when he had killed all his other victims? Then Eliza receives a letter from her abductor - Walter Bowman. He saw her in a magazine article and said he would know her anywhere. He is on death row and wants to to talk to her.

It's an excellent book, and I recommend it highly. Why?

10. Laura Lippman is a skillful writer, an artist who draws characters until you can almost hear them speak. Each of her standalone novels introduces us to people we would never know until we meet them on her pages.

9. What would it be like to be a kidnap victim? While I'd prefer to never know this on a personal level, the insights are intriguing and haunting.

8. The kids' characters, while incidental to the story, ring so true: a snippy haughty teenager who, while she could be stereotypical, is not and a younger son who could be a stereotypical cuddle-muffin but is not.

7. An interesting look/discussion of the death penalty. Is it right? Wrong? Want to change your opinion? Want to reinforce your opinion? Here are some thoughts.

6. The pacing. Lippman sucks you in. I rarely say, "I couldn't put it down." This time, well... I couldn't put it down. I ate and slept with the book until I finished. (If anyone wants to borrow it, I apologize for the food stains.)

5. The story. The victim of a kidnapper/spree killer is begged to meet with her kidnapper on death row.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For me I'd Know You Anywhere proved to be a frustrating read. On one hand I literally marveled at Laura Lippman's ability to craft a complex study of intimacy, guilt, confusion, memory, temptation, sibling rivalry and a mother's natural urge to protect her children.

The desperation and terror experienced by the young victims in this story coupled with the psychological games and manipulative ploys employed by several of the central characters were intricately woven into this amazing narrative allowing the reader a voyeuristic look into the dark recesses of some pretty obsessive and, at times, malicious minds. Also, the exploration of relationships - in particular, the almost symbiotic relationship between captive and captor as well as the love/hate relationship exhibited by siblings are related with perceptive insight and sensitivity.

And yet, for all that, there is a certain hollowness to the story. What began as a compelling chronicle resonating with tremendous potential ultimately loses its voice and becomes a mere echo of what it could have been. The "big question" was never really answered but was presented as more of a "what do you think" challenge for the reader to ponder, as was the issue of capital punishment. I don't mind using my grey matter, but when a talented author has built up my expectations, I am greedy enough to expect them to deliver the goods.
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Format: Hardcover
This review was written for the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.

Eliza Benedict was kidnapped and held hostage by Walter Bowman when she was fifteen years old. Once returned to her family, she and they set about recreating their old life in a new town and trying to pretend that everything is normal. Eliza grows up to build an ideal life with a husband and two kids only to have that peace shattered by a letter from Walter who now sits on death row awaiting execution.

Lippman does a wonderful job of showing how Eliza has compartmentalized her past trauma separate from her daily life. While a few things bleed through - a fear of leaving the windows open at night is one - she spends most of her time convinced that she is past what happened to her. Walter's letter and the subsequent phone calls show her just how much she has not dealt with and forces her to face the questions of how and when to tell her children about her past.

Lippman also gives us a window into the lives of the parents of another of Walter's victims; a young girl named Holly that he kills while still holding Eliza captive. Unlike Eliza, Holly's mother has not even attempted to rope off the events of the past and has largely found life unlivable since the murder of her daughter. Despite Walter's conviction for the murder, she remains convinced that Eliza could have saved Holly if she had tried. When she discovers that Eliza is in contact with Walter she is terrified that somehow Walter will escape his imminent execution.

Where the book falters is in the ending, A lot of avenues are opened in this book and few of them are truly explored in the end. Walter repeatedly hints at a dark secret that Eliza must face but the moment of truth is a non-event that falls flat and feels forced. We also never get to see any kind of ending for Holly's parents and how they deal with what eventually happens to Walter.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is about a complex subject. What happens to a woman when the man who kidnapped her when she was a teenager decides to contact her out of the blue? In fairness, I've never had this experience, so I'm not sure how I would react. But in many cases the thoughts/actions of Eliza Benedict did not ring true to me.

Eliza has contentendly settled into her role as wife and mother, and is like a tumbleweed, blown this way and that by life without leaving too much of a mark. She doesn't ever get overly upset or excited about much of anything, even when she probably should. Her husband's reaction to the re-emergence of Eliza's kidnapper read like something out of a counseling book. The guy, improbably, seems to do everything exactly right under extremely stressful conditions. In fact, no one around Eliza seems to have any visceral reaction to the situation; rather, they react almost clinically. To me, this does not reflect real life.

There are some interesting psychological explorations in this novel, but ultimately the reactions of the characters left me cold.
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