I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman

One genre I never read? Mysteries/Thrillers. Until now, I never saw the appeal – all that killing and suspense and evilness.

Lippman But I was somehow drawn to Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhere, which is really more of a psychological thriller than a murder mystery. It is about Eliza Benedict, a woman in her 40s living outside DC, who is suddenly contacted by Walter Bowman, a man who kidnapped her when she was 15 and took her on the run with him for 40 days. He was tried for murdering two other girls, found guilty, and sentenced to death. When the book opens, his execution date is four months away, and what Walter wants from Eliza isn't entirely clear.

I'd Know You Anywhere is told from a few perspectives – Eliza's and Walter's, but also two other characters' – Trudy Tackett, the mother of one of Walter's victims, and Barbara LaFortuni, an anti-death penalty activist. These four perspectives combine to create a richly detailed story of Walter's crimes and how the narrators' lives were affected by what he did. The story is mostly told by Eliza, whose strategy of surviving the years after her ordeal was basically to become invisible – physically, by changing her name and moving, but even more deeply, by being passive and unobtrusive and barely making a mark on the world (except through being a wife and mother).

I listened to this book on audio, and I couldn't wait to get back to the car every day just so I could resume listening to it. Lippman's writing style is rather simple and very easy to read. It is her storytelling – her pacing, and the small twists and turns – that got me hooked. Some parts of the book felt simplistic, like Eliza's entirely conflict-free relationship with her husband. And Eliza was a frustratingly passive character (which comes up in the book). But overall, I was taken in by the story and, as I noted in yesterday's post, was transported elsewhere while I was reading. Isn't that, at the end of the day, what we want from books?

I've read reviews of the book that complain about the ending, that it isn't dramatic enough. I disagree – I found it satisfying.

I'd Know You Anywhere got extra credit for being extremely current (mentions of Facebook and iPhones and the like abound) – and I loved all the suburban DC references.

Re: the audio version – the narrator did a nice job of assuming distinct and convincing accents/tones for each of the characters. I do wish she'd read faster – there was no reason for this book to have needed 10 CDs.

I'm not sure whether this book will open the door to a flood of mysteries/thrillers for me, but I can say that I am much more open-minded about the genre now. 

Does this book sound like something you'd like to read? I would like to pass along my audiobook version of I'd Know You Anywhere. If you'd like to win it, just leave a comment here.

12 Comments

  • March 25, 2011 - 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I would love to listen to this one. Please count me in!

  • Tena Russ
    March 25, 2011 - 3:19 pm | Permalink

    This absolutely sounds like something I’d like to read! Great premise.

  • March 25, 2011 - 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I love Lippman’s work and look forward to reading this one.

  • March 25, 2011 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

    You don’t need to put me in for the giveaway as I’ve already read the book.
    I was drawn to the psychological aspect of the book, but I wanted a bit more out of Eliza. She was a bit cold to me. I also wanted to know more about Walter. What made him tick, etc.
    That Barbara was a piece of work, wasn’t she?
    I don’t care for mystery or crime fiction too often, but I am hooked on Scandinavian Crime Fiction right now. I read Nesbo’s The Devil’s Star and now I am reading The Snowman and it’s changed my opinion of the genre. They are so good!

  • March 25, 2011 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

    In general, I don’t read much crime fiction either and I’ve never read any of Laura Lippman’s other books, but you’ve made this one sound so good, I’d love to listen to it. I’m always looking for audio recommendations. Thanks!

  • Michelle B
    March 25, 2011 - 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I love listening to books on CD – my second daughter is in college 7 hours away. I need good books to keep me awake and make the drive go more quickly.

  • Larissa
    March 25, 2011 - 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I read another book by her (“What the Dead Know”) which I also thought was interesting with her Baltimore/local background. It was pretty good and had an interesting twist. Will have to check this one out!

  • anne
    March 26, 2011 - 6:52 pm | Permalink

    What a great review. I have read this author’s books and enjoyed them greatly.

  • Elisabeth
    March 26, 2011 - 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a good choice for an audio book, I’d like to give it a go!

  • April 2, 2011 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I loved this book as well. You should try her book What the Dead Know as well – same sort of mystery/suspense, I loved it.

  • April 7, 2011 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I do enjoy the occasional mystery thriller but it isn’t a genre i like to read all the time. Still, this one sounds like a pretty good read.

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