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I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel Paperback – May 3, 2011
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“Ex-journalist Lippman never forgets as she moves from past to present and from perspective to perspective that nothing is more important—or more elusive—than the truth.” (Kirkus)
“I’d Know You Anywhere” continues Laura Lippman’s extraordinary run of stand-alone novels (alternating with her lighter books about private eye Tess Monaghan). From its unsettling opening to its breathtaking conclusion, “Anywhere” exemplifies Lippman’s strengths: compassion, intense prose and deep empathy for the snares of ambiguous emotions. (Seattle Times)
“Lippman deftly keeps the balls aloft with a strong structure -- a straight-ahead chronology interrupted by surgical flashbacks -- and evocative writing.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“She’s one of the best novelists around, period.” (Washington Post)
“Lippman’s dedicated fans will find themselves well rewarded with I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, an exceptional novel in every way, which is sure to gain her many new followers.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)
“With the summer reading season coming to a close, don’t let I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE be the one that got away.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“I’d Know You Anywhere” ranks with her very best.” (Associated Press)
The popular mystery-series author’s latest stand-alone: a terrifying story about a death-row inmate obsessed with the only victim he left alive. (O magazine)
This is a story that grips you not with suspense but with its acute psychological autopsy of a survivor. Lippman’s knack for elucidating the horrors humans can inflict on one another through violence and manipulation — while telling a compelling story —is disarming and fascinating.- (USA Today)
I’d Know You Anywhere is a crime story, but it’s not a whodunit. Rather, it’s an exquisitely sensitive story about the psychological impact of crime on its victims. It’s a story about shame, about anger, about survivor’s guilt. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
From the Back Cover
There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. Still, I'd know you anywhere.
Suburban wife and mother Eliza Benedict's peaceful world falls off its axis when a letter arrives from Walter Bowman. In the summer of 1985, when Eliza was fifteen, she was kidnapped by this man and held hostage for almost six weeks. Now he's on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, and Eliza wants nothing to do with him. Walter, however, is unpredictable when ignored—as Eliza knows only too well—and to shelter her children from the nightmare of her past, she'll see him one last time.
But Walter is after something more than forgiveness: He wants Eliza to save his life . . . and he wants her to remember the truth about that long-ago summer and release the terrible secret she's keeping buried inside.
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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.
Patience is not a commodity I have in ample supply.
With a writer of lesser talents than Lippman, I probably would have given up on the book prior to its halfway mark. But that's just the thing: Lippman is so good, she keeps you reading, even if the story and its pacing is, well, somewhat plodding. No, plodding is not the right word. That word is a criticism. I guess the right words would be "carefully considered" or "measured."
At first glance, the storyline seems sensational and fans of Lippman's earlier work may think they will be soon sinking their teeth into a real up-all-night page-turner. The story, about a serial killer on death row getting in touch with the one woman he abducted and raped, but did not kill, after twenty years, seems like a subject for high melodrama and gut-wrenching suspense. Especially when the criminal in question did kill at least two other young girls who were about the same age as the protagonist.
But Lippman doesn't go there. Instead, she sets her own pace, one that reveals subtle shading in characterization, allowing us, if we are patient, to explore complex questions about similarities between criminal and victim, about the prolonged, perhaps lifelong, effect a crime can have on not only its victim and her family, but on the perpetrator himself. It's a book about survival and forgiveness and the withholding of it. It's about buried secrets, lies, and how one trauma can have a ripple effect through many years and many lives.
Moving seamlessly back and forth in alternating chapters between present day and 1985, when the story's principal crime took place, we get to see the connection between past and present and watch as it, ever so slowly, begins to simmer.
Lippman takes us deep inside the mind of Eliza and reveals her insecurities, her fears, and her desire to make a kind of peace with the horror of her past. She is not necessarily a strong heroine, but she is a sympathetic one, one that creeps into our hearts and makes us hope fervently for the peace she so desperately seeks...and that her former abductor and an odd prisoner rights' advocate seem to want to take away from her.
There's a reason Lippman is a top name in the suspense genre and a reason none other than Stephen King himself named I'd Know You Anywhere one of the best books of 2010 in his annual roundup for Entertainment Weekly. I heartily concur.
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.