I'd Know You Anywhere, by Laura Lippman.
Whatever he wanted to know -- and she had known from the first letter that he would not be satisfied with a one-sided contact, that his very words "I'd know you anywhere" were meant to remind her of a marker on a very old debt -- she wanted something from him, too. She needed to ask: "Why me?" Was that wrong? Was it ego-driven, irrational? Did the very question desecrate the memories of the others, and if that was the case -- then so what? Wasn't she entitled to ask that question, in private, of the one person who actually could tell her if there was a reason she was alive? - from I'd Know You Anywhere, page 156 -
Eliza Benedict has married a wonderful man, birthed two adorable children, and has found some peace and satisfaction as a homemaker and mother. The last thing she expects is a letter from a man who more than twenty years earlier kidnapped and raped her ... and now sits on death row for the murders of at least two girls. Walter, a narcissistic sociopath, sees Eliza as his last chance to escape the death penalty, and he is still the master manipulator who controlled her as a fifteen year old, frightened girl. So, when Eliza agrees to talk with him in order to keep her past a continued secret from her children, it is with some trepidation. Despite the passage of years, Eliza is still haunted by the girls who did not survive Walter's evil intent, and wonders why she managed to do so. I'd Know You Anywhere is a psychological thriller that asks two questions: How reliable are our memories, and can we move forward without confronting our past?
Laura Lippman combines the perceptiveness of literary fiction and the cleverness of the suspense-thriller genre to craft a novel which is insightful while creating a sense of apprehension and foreboding. The novel is narrated in multiple viewpoints, allowing the reader to get a deeper sense of the characters and reveal the story within the story. Although, on its face, I'd Know You Anyway appears as a straight forward crime novel, what sets it apart from other books in its genre is the care Lippman takes in developing her characters.
I'd Know You Anywhere is not a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller ... instead the plot is more evenly paced, allowing for an exploration of the crime itself (in flashbacks), as well as a look into the psyches of the victim and her attacker.
Thematically, the novel takes a look at memory, victim recovery (from both Eliza's point of view, and the perspective of the survivors of Walter's other, less fortunate victims), and psychological manipulation. Lippman also examines the nature of obsession through one character, a woman, who finds herself enthralled with the incarcerated Walter. As with all of Lippman's novels, the role of media comes into play as the plot unfolds.
I enjoyed this book, as I have enjoyed previous work by this author. A relatively fast read, this is a book which will appeal to readers who enjoy both literary fiction and suspense fiction.
- Quality of Writing: Four stars
- Plot: Three and a half stars
- Characters: Four stars
Overall Rating: Four stars out of five
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".
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