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I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel Hardcover – August 17, 2010
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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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Top customer reviews
Going into the novel, though, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I was hoping it would jump right into the "real" plot. It started out slow and monotonous, giving us seemingly unimportant and mundane details about the now-adult victim's homelife with her two kids. They moved back to the states from London, blah, blah, blah. Then, Eliza receives the first letter from Walter, the man who kidnapped her and held her hostage for a month when she was a teenager. That's when the story started to really get interesting. I loved the "connection" between Eliza and Walter. Every chapter that had a current exchange between them, or a flashback to Walter's exploits as a young man either with or without Eliza, had me hooked. I wanted to know what he had done, and I wanted to know why. Eliza's background, I could care less about. It was Walter's past, the so-called serial killer's, that was so fascinating.
The point of view of the novel altered with every chapter. It was a bit confusing at times at the start of the chapter, until I realized whose point of view it was that I was reading. Sometimes, we're given the point of view of Walter, or Eliza, or Barbara (the mysterious woman who is acting as Walter's liaison with the outside world), or Trudy (the mother of one of Walter's last victim). Do we care about Barbara's point of view? Or Trudy's? No, not really. It's Walter's and Eliza's that really give us the "meat" of the story and kept me reading on.
When all secrets and truths come out in the end during Eliza's and Walter's final meeting face-to-face with only jail cell bars between them, I felt a little disappointed. The mystery was interesting and well-written, but I guess I wanted more. Maybe I even expected more. There was a lot leading up to this moment and when it finally happened, it felt rushed. The author didn't even give us all the details I was hoping for about Walter and his past. Lippman felt the need to go on and on about Eliza's children's antics and school situations, but didn't feel the need to give readers details about her main character? That, to me, felt like a poor decision.
I do recommend I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE and I think the author writes very well, but I do think it could have been better.
One of my favorite lines:
"No one had to be stupid. Stupid was a choice." Ahh...so true.
The character dynamics were fleshed out just enough to keep you wanting more. Laura Lippman left just enough to the imagination to paint an incredible picture, while spelling out the necessary details in just the right way.
Thrilling, interesting and different! If you're looking for a good read to instantly wrap you up, this is the one!
Since then she has lived a normal life; she has a husband who makes her feel secure and two typical children. Then one day she gets a letter from the killer, who is on death row. He's seen her picture in the newspaper and tells her he'd recognize her anywhere -- and he wants to call her, and maybe even meet.
The writing is great, with many subtle details revealed expertly, and the characters, without exception, are complex and interesting. (Maybe a little skimpy on the husband.) I say it is less than a thriller because there is never any true fear, but it is also more than a thriller because the characters are so rich and the storytelling is quite skillful.
This is an intriguing premise handled well, and I will look for others by this author.
For a story with so much potential, we linger in the depths of summation for the majority of the book. Even scenes/chapters with minor, minor characters with little to do seem to be stretched out far too long--and it's not because there's much going on. For example: one chapter finds a character sitting in a closet; we find out about this character's backstory, her history with her husband, etc, but she's not doing anything. That same character, a few chapters later, spends about ten pages walking around a house before she knocks on the door--not because she's doing anything, but simply because Lippman can't stop herself from overloading us with details and backstory. I commend her for knowing each and every one of her characters so well (okay, except for Peter, who has very, very little to do), but at some point, I wish her editor had said, "You know, Laura, I think we know enough about [this person], I think it's time to move the story forward."
Aside from the overly-saturated summaries, what disappointed me more was the last fourth of the book; an endgame that doesn't deliver on its promises, characters that were once incredibly frightening becoming nothing more than meek versions of their former selves, and a climax that just sort of falls flat. For all of the character background and exposition that we get throughout the three-hundred-and-fifty pages leading up to the end, I was hoping that book would finally get some real momentum, but Lippman just lets the story kind of fizzle out. I'll be honest--there was a point half-way through the book, where a conversation between Eliza/Elizabeth and Walter hinted at what could have been a magnificent twist to the plot, and when I reached the climax, that twist was what I was hoping for (for myself and for the book itself, just to take it to an entirely different level), but it was not made to be.
Lippman's a great writer of sentences, and she knows how to create tension, but I wish that tension would have gone somewhere more exciting. I'll have to try out another one of her's (this was my first) in the future.