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Showing 1-10 of 91 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 262 reviews
VINE VOICEon August 29, 2011
This is my first novel by Laura Lippman. I was intrigued by the subject matter/plot, so I picked it up, not knowing that Ms. Lippman has a string of previous novels. A death row inmate contacts his only surviving victim who holds a secret of her own about their time together? I felt very intrigued.

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." true.
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on September 8, 2015
This book was over too quickly. It immediately drew me in and continuously held my attention. While every sentence was not a revelation in itself, the main points and questions were spun so fantastically that it didn't matter.
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!
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Elizabeth Benedict was a typical young teenager -- a bit rebellious, a bit mature -- when she was abducted by a serial killer and held for several weeks; in addition to the other traumas endured, which are revealed to the reader slowly, in layers, as the protagonist allows herself to think about them, what haunts Elizabeth (and others) is why he killed all his other victims but let her live.

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.
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on June 24, 2011
Back in college, I had a creative writing professor who always emphasized "action" over "summary"; I don't mean action in the thriller/suspense meaning of the word, but in the simple understanding that characters are "doing" something in the here and now. "I'd Know You Anywhere" has trouble finding its balance between the two. Don't get me wrong--the premise stands strong (a woman being the only survivor of a killer being contacted some twenty years later) and the story itself is, I believe, one definitely worth telling, but something doesn't fit.

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.
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VINE VOICEon May 11, 2011
You have to be patient to reap the rewards from reading mystery/thriller writer Laura Lippman's latest foray into psychological suspense.

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.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 16, 2011
Laura Lippman is a very good writer. She had me enthralled from the first. I couldn't help but make comparisons to Lippman's main character's Elizabeth, and the kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. I'd read that Lippman shadows real events with her crime novels, so it wasn't just the fact that I'd Know You Anywhere features a young girl who is kidnapped by a nutcase who can't fit into today's society. I found Walter the truly intriguing character in the book, and he was charming in a warped sort of way. Aside from killing the young girls he picks up in his truck, Walter always had high hopes for himself and tried to improve himself right up until the end.

The author delved into her main character, Elizabeth's life, she's now 38 with a husband and two kids, but she's truly not that interesting. Her son is a pleaser to an unnatural degree, while her teenage daughter takes on the opposite role, pleasing no one but herself. My question is whether Iso, the teenage daughter was keeping secrets because of the deeply held secrets of her mother. Do our children display our shadow-side to bring it to our attention? This was a question that the author hinted at but never fully explored.

I was also disappointed in Elizabeth's husband, Peter. He was so supportive and perfect that I kept waiting for an affair to be discovered. Elizabeth's sister, Vonnie was far more interesting, in fact she needs her own story. I can't help but wonder if Lippman gives Vonnie her own novel. She certainly deserves one.

But my favorite unexplored character was Walter. He was short, but so are a lot of men. It doesn't usually make them go off the deep end. He was handsome, yet women would sense something about him and turn away. What was that? Where did it come from? His parents had him late in life, and it was speculated that they never had sex again. What's up with that? Is this why Walter was stilted in his growth both physically, and socially?

Spoiler Alert!!!!

Okay, here's where I thought the story was going: I thought that what Walter was holding over Elizabeth was that she killed Holly out of both jealousy and fear of Walter. A love/hate Stockholm syndrome episode full blown. I was bummed when it turned out that was only Walter trying to trick one of the dumbest characters (Elizabeth) into getting him set free. Boy was I disappointed.

Maybe the next Lippman book will be more rewarding, though that doesn't discount the joy I had for %99 of the book.
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on March 26, 2011
Once I started this book I just could not put it down. Told in a series of flashbacks and present day events, it tells the story of Elizabeth Lerner, kidnapped and held hostage at 15. The only victim of Walter Bowman to survive, she has built a quiet but happy and anonymous life in the years that follow. That is until she receives a letter from Walter and her past comes back full force, reminding her of all of the things she tried so hard to put behind her.

Fearing his grip into her new life from death row but also needing to acknowledge and let go of her dreadful past, Elizabeth tentatively agrees to his contact - something some readers may not understand. As her past is slowly revealed it becomes obvious that Walter still wants something from her and that he is counting on the force of his will that she submitted to as a teen will again get its grip on her.

Told in third person perspective, the reader is invited into the private thoughts and emotions of everyone involved - Elizabeth, her family, the mother of Walter's last victim, and even Walter himself. Strangely enough I felt sympathy for everyone except Mrs. Tackett, mother of final victim Holly Tackett, who misplaces her anger and grief toward Elizabeth for surviving when her daughter didn't.

With the Jaycee Duggard case and others like her, this story is not only frighteningly plausible but refreshingly current. Although I downloaded this book for free when it was offered, anyone who enjoys realistic fiction thrillers will not be disappointed in this purchase.
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on May 28, 2011
This was a well written book and suspenseful enough to keep the reader interested, however, it is not close to a 5 star read. Walter was a well developed believable character. Just enough information about him to explain his behavior but not too much. These type of people are an enigma. There is generally no reasonable explanation for why they are innately evil and I appreciate the author's restraint. The husband Peter, on the other hand, was a cardboard throw away character. The marital relationship was equally undeveloped (frustratingly so). The ending didn't bother me, it was realistic and not sensational. What I did find completely dissatisfying was the protagonist's insistence that there was nothing she could have done to save Holly. Really? Nothing? I fully understand that Elizabeth's lack of any action and passivity may well have been what kept herself alive, but the book ends with Eliza justifying herself with a pat and an unsatisfying release from guilt and ghosts. In reality, I can't imagine anyone giving themselves that free pass.
For me personally, I require a real emotional connection to a book to give it 4 or 5 stars. The book wasn't a "can't put down", and it certainly wasn't a book to love, but it was a decent bookclub read because it touches upon many issues that would be good for discussions.
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on March 21, 2016
This novel focuses on a present day scenario that has its roots in the 80s. The reader shifts back and forth in time learning about the main character's past, and present. The premise is based on what happens when a serial killer has a surviving victim when that killer's time to die arrives. Interesting read.
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on March 5, 2014
I had never read a book by Lippman, and I almost chose not to read this one based on the negative reviews. I am pleased to say I read it, and in some cases reread a sentence for the thought or construction. This was not only an intriguing plot, but the characterizations were believable. I liked how she brought other written works into the story, especially the children’s literature. So many times authors miss the character of children at certain ages with their thoughts and their speaking. She did an excellent job with that. This was a very believable story and very well written. I am going to go read another book by her right now.
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