Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: I'd Know You Anywhere

I'd Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
377 pages

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author returns with a new stand-alone novel—a powerful and utterly riveting tale that skillfully moves between past and present to explore the lasting effects of crime on a victim's life....I'd Know You Anywhere.

Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life with her successful husband and children, thirteen-year-old Iso and eight-year-old Albie. But her tranquillity is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects—or wants—to hear from: Walter Bowman. "There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are older now. Still, I'd know you anywhere."  In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears. Though Eliza wants nothing to do with him, she's never forgotten that Walter was most unpredictable when ignored. Desperate to shelter her children from this undisclosed trauma in her past, she cautiously makes contact with Walter. She's always wondered why Walter let her live, and perhaps now he'll tell her—and share the truth about his other victims.Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable, cocooned life, will do anything to protect it—even if it means finally facing the events of that horrifying summer and the terrible truth she's kept buried inside.  An edgy, utterly gripping tale of psychological manipulation that will leave readers racing to the final page, I'd Know You Anywhere is a virtuoso performance from acclaimed, award-winning author Laura Lippman that is sure to be her biggest hit yet.

My Thoughts:
I think one thing I love so much about the book world is the vastness.   I've been taking a bit of  a hiatus, mostly due to my mood, job, and the world's most evil stomach bug in the world.  But now that I  can keep down water and sit up straight without being dizzy, I wanted to get back to sharing in my favorite world: the book world.  I find books a lot like medicine.  The more you know, the more you find to learn, and the more you realize you know very little.  Though the book world overwhelms me at times, I love to find that there is always more to read and new authors to discover. 

I found this book on the New Fiction shelf at the library.  I really thought it was a book on my Goodreads shelf - it looked familiar.  But I added it to my pile of books because it sounded awesome.  And it was - awesome.  I had never heard of Laura Lippman before.  Turns out she's written a series of 11 books called Tess Monaghan as well as several single novels.  Who knew?  Not me certainly.  But, more to love now.  It's like I found a whole new genre.  

Anyway, back to the book.  I'd Know You Anywhere was incredible.  It was like a book version of Criminal Minds with flashbacks.  I'm way into mysteries right now with suspense and a little psychology.  Lippman certainly delivered on what I didn't even think to ask for.  I'd Know You Anywhere was a great read that I could not put down.  Creepy, thoughtful, emotional, it was all of the above.  The premise of the story you can read above.  But I can say that the story is told in flashbacks from different characters' perspectives.  Sometimes you see the story through Walter's eyes, sometimes through Eliza's eyes.  It makes the novel very interesting, as you put together the story from different snippets of the plot.  I especially love Lippman's ability to divide Elizabeth/Eliza into two almost separate characters.  She particularly refers to Elizabeth as the girl before and during the kidnapping and Eliza as the girl after.  The differences are quite intriguing.
For those of you who shy away from rape/murder suspense novels, I'll let you know that rape is not a major player in this novel.  It's present in the fact that Walter does rape at least one girl.  But it is not graphic, and Lippman does not go into detail.  She handles it very tastefully, and I thought she presented the matter very well.  It's more a factor that makes Elizabeth afraid of Walter than a central theme to the novel.  She also does not focus on a sexual aspect between Eliza and Walter.  I've read books that talk about the struggle of rape victims to overcome their horrors, but I'll let you in on the very small spoiler that this novel does not fall into that category.  Ms. Lippman covers a different type of psychological manipulation.  She presents a story in which Elizabeth was held hostage for six weeks.  In that time, she and Walter spent six weeks, almost every moment, together - making them close in an odd way that is hard for all parties involved to define.  It makes for a very fascinating read.

I gave this novel a 4/5 because I really enjoyed it.  I read it in a couple of days, and I even stacked up the late fees to hold off taking it back to the library so I could finish it.  It was the first psychological suspense novel I've read, and it was wonderful.  I thought about it several days after I finished the novel, and I'm sure that one day in ten years I could tell you at least the basic plot and how good it was.  The only thing that kept the book from a rare 5 in my mind was a few plot lines that I wanted tied up better at the end, which many where probably simply a personal curiosity.  Any suspense lover will be greatly rewarded by this book.  And those who haven't taken a crack at the suspense/thriller type novel genre, this was a great beginning for me.  I was completely able to sleep at night (once I'd finished the novel), with no nightmares or jumps at strange noises.  It's a great book.  If you feel like splurging today, think about picking this book as your happy for the day.

Goodreads: I'd Know You Anywhere
Goodreads: Laura Lippman
Official Website

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