Friday, September 3, 2010

Review: I'd Know You Anywhere

Summary: 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.-- William Morrow

I have heard some very good things about Laura Lippman and I think I've even read a novel of hers before, but I had no idea how wonderful she really is. I recently read I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE and I can't get over how fantastic this book was! It was a gripping story with interesting characters, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I couldn't put this book down.

I don't read a ton of thrillers anymore, but I do enjoy the occasional one. The problem I now have after reading I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is that I think Ms. Lippman just set the bar a lot higher when it comes to my expectations for a good suspense story. This book was excellent on so many fronts, but none more than the writing!

I guess I'd have to say that I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE could be classified as a thriller, but it was actually so much more to me than that. Ms. Lippman told a great story, but the beauty of this novel was in the character development. Both Eliza and Walter were fascinating in their own rights and I can't believe how real these characters were to me.

Eliza was kidnapped and raped as a teenager by Walter Bowman. For some reason, Walter didn't kill Eliza like he did all of his other victims; and Eliza has always wondered why she was spared. For years, Eliza has tried to put this incident out of her mind and lead a normal life with her husband and children; and she was pretty successful. However, when Walter contacts her from death row just weeks before he is scheduled to die, Eliza is forced to address many of the issues in her past.

As I read this book, I couldn't help but sympathize with Eliza. I can't even begin to imagine the terror she faced and how difficult it would be to recover from this horrific crime. I gave Eliza a tremendous amount of credit for being able to move forward, although I suspected that Eliza was carrying more baggage than she cared to admit. I could understand Eliza's curiosity when it came to Walter because she didn't have complete resolution; however, I'm not sure that I would have followed the same path that Eliza did in this novel. Having said that, I thought Ms. Lippman portrayed Eliza very realistically and I appreciated seeing inside her head.

Walter was another extremely interesting character to me, and I loved that the author gave the reader the opportunity to understand him. I'm not saying that anything he did was okay by any stretch, but it was fascinating to see what made him tick. As much of a monster as he was, at times, I found myself pitying him. Believe me when I say that I would have never thought that I'd have felt any sort of compassion to a murderer. I guess that's proof of how wonderful a job Ms. Lippman did with the character development.

What I most enjoyed about this novel were the interactions between the characters. I was just so pleasantly surprised by how real and insightful there were. Of course, the dynamics between Eliza and Walter were terrific; however, there were also some great scenes with Eliza and her husband, Eliza and her children, Eliza and her parents, and even Eliza and her sister. I found it incredibly interesting to see how Eliza's interactions with everyone in her life were so affected by that brief (albeit horrific) event.

Because Walter was a prisoner on death row, it was natural that there would be some discussion of the death penalty in this novel. I can understand both sides of the argument, but I have to say that I was extremely impressed with how Ms. Lippman handled this in I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE. She managed to present the different opinions in a very unbiased way and actually gave the readers something to think about.

I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE would make for a fantastic book club pick! It's kind of like a suspense novel (and there aren't a lot of those being read in most book clubs), but it's also a very smart book about people and their relationships. I think you could discuss Eliza and Walter for hours, but there are a lot of other issues in this book that I'm sure you'd find worthy of discussion. I wasn't able to find a reading guide, but I bet that there will be one available in the very near future. Some of the topics for discussion include crimes, victims, violence, fear, acceptance, parent/child relationships, marriage, sisterly dynamics, healing, and forgiveness.

I absolutely recommend this book if you are a fans of suspense/thrillers, but I think anyone who appreciates a good story with wonderful writing will love this novel!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read this one!

bermudaonion said...

I think I read one of Lippman's books years ago, but I can't remember which one. If I remember right, I really enjoyed it, so now I'm wondering why I never read more. This sounds fantastic!

Beth Hoffman said...

Terrific review, Julie. I'll add this to my list.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have heard SO MUCH good about Lippman, and actually just recently Heather/Zibilee gave me one to read. I read alot of mystery thrillers but it is really hard to find one that sticks with you. I'm thinking Lippman is going to make that happen. Great review! YOu've got me excited about her.

Alyce said...

A smart and suspenseful novel - sounds like a lot of fun!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I too have heard a lot about this but I trust your review and can't wait to read it now!

Melissa said...

My first Lippman book was just so-so, but I really enjoyed this one!