305 of 323 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine 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. There's a story to suck you right in.
4. The characters you meet along the way: the mother of the last victim, Walter's bitter ex-teacher advocate who, while she claims to not be obsessed with him, is surely obsessed in some ways, a shoddy journalist/novelist... Then there's Eliza herself, who has re-invented herself... or has she? There are many to hold your interest.
3. Sensuous descriptions. By sensuous I don't mean romanticized. I mean you will feel them.
2. There's always a clever twist. A moment you didn't anticipate.
1. The fact that Lippman has another novel up her sleeve which will surely explore some new arena that hasn't been touched on before.
I look forward to it.
95 of 101 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine 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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2010
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.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified 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.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2010
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Very disappointing read after all the hype. Although the subject matter regarding the dynamics between criminal and victim is filled with possibility, the author fails to fully develop the complexity and nuances of Elizabeth and Walter's relationship. How is it possible that she couldn't give these characters any real dimension or depth? This is, I assume, the core of her text. The rest of the book is really quite dull. The other characters again aren't drawn out and seem like cardboard cutouts. The author invites us into the relationship between Elizabeth and her daughter, but then fails to develop this promising story line, leaving this reader very frustrated. I had hoped that perhaps the bulk of her text would at least lead to a climactic ending, but I was sadly mistaken. There really was nothing to this book at all.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This was a very interesting read for me. A lot of food for thought. Reading a random sampling of other reviews has actually given me more to think about. I enjoyed and admired the book, but I could also see why other readers were frustrated by certain elements.
The plot centers around Eliza a stay at home mom who was kidnapped and raped as a teen. Her abuser's date to be executed is approaching -- he was convicted for other crimes based on Eliza's testimony -- and he contacts her thinking she might be the key to his getting life in prison instead of lethal injection.
"I'd Know You" is written as a psychological study, or studies, and not as a thriller. I think some people were expecting it to be horror or suspense, I can understand that, but it was really a look into the lives and minds of the various characters, particularly Eliza.
The tone was somewhat muted and the people in many cases seemed more realistic than normally seen in fiction which, oddly enough, can seem unrealistic because expectations are flouted. Eliza is not a butt-kickin' heroine. She's low-key, beta, a reactor. Some of this can be attributed to her plight, but much of it is simply an inherent part of her nature. There's an implication that this is why Walter, her abductor, didn't kill her. Like a lot of real-life victims, she didn't try to escape on a few occasions when she could have, and, just like real life, it causes some people to question her role. It also seems to frustrate some readers. :)
I think that gets to the heart of his novel though. Perceptions and expectations. The reviews bring home this point. Eliza becomes controversial by not acting in the proscribed way for a novel heroine, by not acting like we imagine people act in that situation, even though time and time again we see proof that people react in a wide variety of ways. Some reviewers have called Eliza stupid, but I don't agree.
Eliza when she's contacted by Walter (and a love-sick advocate) is accommodating. That's her nature, but beyond that I think she wants to understand and she wants to protect her family. Just as she wanted to do when she was a fifteen year old girl and he threatened her family. I understand her choice to want to know what he's thinking and later to continue because she could perhaps help the family of his victims.
There is a comment in a review about not understanding her husband. THAT I get. He was an enigma. At one point someone acted as if he was, I don't know, the strong one, but he seemed to only support her and never question, not even as a devil's advocate. I understood her need and her choices, but I didn't feel him as a real person.
The title for me is about perception. The story is told from a number of points of view. Among them is Eliza, Walter, Barbara the advocate, and the mother of one of his victims. Each of them not only had a point of view, but a viewpoint -- a perception of others. Each character saw Eliza in a different way. A reporter took a picture of the teen her for a tawdry true crime novel and noted the shot made her look slightly guilty. Perception. Walter is also seen in a number of different lights and his perceptions of girls leads to tragedy. Eliza when looking at the troubled daughter she loves realizes that another parent, the parent of a child who was (sorta) picked on by her, would see Iso as a bully. The crux of what Walter had been leading up to talking to Eliza about was also a matter of perception. Perceptions of wealth and economic status are also woven through. Even Reba McEntire is seen in more than one light. :)
This was actually thought-provoking. How often do we judge people we don't know? Perhaps even choose to believe the most uncharitable versions of events? Why did this celebrity do that? That's not "normal." Or maybe, she says he beat her, but I don't believe her because why would she stay? In this book, the questions and assumptions were about Eliza surviving, why she made the decisions she did, even what it said about her that she was dressed like Madonna. (Hey, I know I had a pair of lace gloves too back then.) If she's innocent, why does she want to speak to this man?
"I'd Know You" ends with several things unresolved. The central issue is handled, but some other b-plots that seemed to be going somewhere were unfinished. I think everything served a purpose, showed a perspective, but there was no closure on several matters and no effort to provide any. I think there were at least 4-5 issues which any experience with the rules of fiction would have lead the average reader to expect to finish or move to a finish never did. A few scenes I would have bet on appearing didn't happen. It actually didn't bother me as much as it probably should, but I see why it made others crazy, and will admit to have wanted a few more of these things to play out. (There was a moment about maybe 88% -- Kindle -- where I knew there was no way everything could be resolved and started wondering what was going to be left by the wayside. A little too much, it turns out, for it to be fully satisfying.)
If you're looking for chills, you'll probably be disappointed. There are many creepy moments, but they're not made into high drama. You'll probably like it if you like a book that looks at the psychology of characters, the way they view others, the choices they make. Those who like it might still be frustrated at the passivity of the main character and the unfinished feel. I admired the author for the choice of the former and was somewhat perturbed at the latter.
I'm calling it 4 stars because I liked the authors voice, the way she wrote the various characters, and how she wrote a strong enough story for me to feel engaged and stretched. I'm taking a star off for ending that left several things I cared about abandoned.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2010
After much hype and many stellar reviews, I found this book to be very disappointing, and at times, even dull. The main character, Elizabeth/Eliza is boring and unlikeable, and her actions seemed unrealistic - not in an intentional, character driven, mysterious way, but in a "you must be kidding me" way. Having never been kidnapped, I can't say for sure, but her nonchalant reaction at being contacted by her former kidnapper seemed ludicrous. There is a scene in which a third party delivers a note to Elizabeth/Eliza from Walter, her former rapist/kidnapper. Elizabeth/Eliza "forgets" to read it for several hours. Please. I was most disappointed by the ending. The author includes countless references to a big secret, a secret Elizabeth must come to terms with, a secret that might save Walter from the death penalty. The actual secret, when revealed, was so ho-hum, so pointless, such a letdown, as to make me want to toss the book across the room. For a gripping version of the woman held hostage story, skip this and read STILL MISSING instead.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2010
This book was unrealistic to me and it stuck in my craw. For Eliza to have accepted a letter from her kidnapper/rapist, then his phone call, then a visit from his advocate/stalker friend Barbara, then to have a phone line installed in her home exclusively for his calls and finally to go in person at the jail to see him. All in a non-challant, non-PTSD kind of way. A real stretch of the imagination.
Can you say co-dependent? This woman should run, not walk, to the nearest therapist.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Elizabeth is a young woman, fifteen years old, who was in a classic wrong place at the wrong time, the place where a serial killer just finished burying a body. She sees the mound, the shovel, and the man and he's not likely to leave her where she stands. The position of this girl hardly ever seems to change for readers even as she is also an adult. It's hard not to think, "Run!" or "Why did you do that?" or "Well don't do that!" but she never runs away, never explains, and always goes ahead anyway.
Eliza, as a wife and mother has buried her past, by moving away from it, changing her name, from Elizabeth to Eliza, later remaining unknown behind her married name, turning as far as possible from the young woman who was kidnapped and held hostage by the serial killer. She moved away from the questions, like why wasn't she killed like the others, why didn't she ask for help when she was alone, and why didn't she run when she had chances, why didn't she tell when Walter had a hostage with them and she was sent into a McDonald's alone? She walked away from a lot of questions.
There are ways in which Lippman just makes it all fit together so beautifully. There are so many characters who are so beautifully drawn. When Elizabeth is looking into window reflections while she is on a walk, trying to catch herself as she looks, unposed, instead of posed and prepared for her reflection, she remembers her sister calling her nose a "pig snout." Then, "Elizabeth had asked her mother if she could have a nose job for her sixteenth birthday and her mother had been unable to speak for several seconds, a notable thing unto itself," as her mother is a psychiatrist. These moments help clarify a character and make them seem so much more real.
Lippman moves amongst the characters with utter clarity and ease. They are drawn fairly and accurately; even when they are foolish, mean, arrogant, all are drawn with a sense of fairness that transcends the smallness of their beings. If anything, the character who is hardest to fathom is Eliza. She seems deceptive, even to herself, which leaves a lot for the reader to figure out.
You always know what character you are reading and whether it is past or present, as the stories seem to be moving forward in a kind of parallel universe where they must collide.
Laura Lippman sucks you into her novel in the first few pages and then spits you out at the other end when she is finished with you. She's just that good. It's impossible to start reading a Laura Lippman novel and walk away from it. Even while you aren't reading it, the characters, the dilemnas are still with you. Her writing, her characters, her story - all are engaging. Her books are always a surprise.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2011
Not what I had expected from an author I usually like. A lukewarm book, I would not even call it a thriller but rather, a descriptive anatomy of the aftermath of a serious crime. A crime involving Elizabeth, kidnapped at 15 near her home and held captive for several weeks by a young man, Walter Bowman. Bowman, later found, tried and sent to death in Virginia (capital punishment due to a different case, but I do not want to spoil the story) is now counting the days to his death, drawing closer.
He contacts Elizabeth after more than 20 years sitting on death row. Elizabeth, now happily married with children and just returned to the USA after a few years in London due to her husband's work, is disturbed by Walter's approach.
Inevitably, her inner world starts to collapse and thoughts of whatever happened so long ago start to resurface, darkening her mind and soul. Despite a supportive family, she is torn to the very core of her existance.
Why did I not like this book much? Because, mainly, I found it boring. It failed to engage me in full. Sorry. I found it overly descriptive and I did not warm to any of the main characters, not even Elizabeth, despite her sufferings, despite everything. In fact, I found her to be a bit annoying as well, almost too naïve (I refer to her adult life) to the point of being exasperating, although I understand the author's intention to try to convey the dilemma, the sort of attachment -still there, after so many years- between captive and captor (and the same happened during her captivity).
There is also the moral, uncomfortable issue about capital punishment and in this respect, the author offers, through the characters, different opinions, which will definitely make the reader think.
The psychological side of the story, seen from different points of view (the story runs in parallels, shifting from past to present day), is the most interesting part of this book, in my opinion. Not bad at all, however it was repetitive, and precisely because it could, and should, have been more engaging, this aspect too turns out to be a bit of a disappointment. My true vote: 2.5 stars.