I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman

Book Quote:

“Dear Elizabeth,
I’m sure this is a shock, although that’s not my intention, to shock you. Up until a few weeks ago, I never thought I would have any communication with you at all and accepted that as fair. That’s how it’s been for more than twenty years now. But it’s hard to ignore signs when they are right there in front of your face, and there was your photo in Washingtonian magazine, not the usual thing I read, but you’d be surprised by my choice of reading material these days. Of course, you are older, a woman now. You’ve been a woman for a while, obviously. Still, I’d know you anywhere.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (AUG 17, 2010)

Laura Lippman knows how to write about terror, both the subtle, covert, shadow type and the more acute, stomach-wrenching, in-your-face type. This is a book about acts of terror, specifically kidnapping and rape. It is primarily about the kidnapping and rape of 13 year-old Elizabeth Lerner in 1985 and the 39 days she spent at the hands of her kidnapper and rapist, William Bowman, a serial killer.

Eliza Bennett is currently living the life of a suburban mother in an upper middle-class area near D.C. She has recently returned to the states after 6 years in Great Britain, following her husband, Peter’s, job opportunities. She has two children, Iso (Isobel) 13, and Albie, 8. She and Peter, along with her immediate family members, are the only ones privy to the secret that Eliza Bennett is really Elizabeth Lerner. After the kidnapping, Elizabeth shortened her name to Eliza and when she married Peter, she took his last name. There is no reason that people should suspect Eliza Bennett and Elizabeth Lerner are one and the same.

The book goes back and forth in time from the present to the time of the kidnapping. It very subtly divulges more and more information about Elizabeth, Walter, and the other girls that Walter kidnapped. The novel shows what Elizabeth felt like in Walter’s hands. Her fear was primal and she felt that to stay alive she needed to obey Walter’s every wish. She not only obeyed him, but she always told him the truth, often entertaining him in a Scheherazade-like manner. In fact, she is the only one of Walter’s victims who has lived to tell about it. Elizabeth was the star witness in the trial whereby Walter Bowman was given the death sentence by the State of Virginia. As the book opens, Walter sits on death row.

Eliza is a good mother, but reticent to make friends and prone to nightmares about the other “ghost children” that Walter kidnapped. She knows that life is not safe and that trust is a false god. One day, out of the blue, she receives a letter from Walter, through an intermediary, that has an enclosed picture of Eliza and Peter at a gala. The letter says, “I’d know you anywhere.” So begins Eliza’s nightmares once again. Walter wants to be in phone contact with her and Eliza knows from experience that Walter is not happy if he does not get what he wants. It is here in the novel that I had trouble suspending belief in order to enjoy the rest of the book, for what Eliza does is get a phone just for the purpose of receiving Walter’s collect calls. She decides that it’s better to do what Walter wants than to get him angry. I can think of many other alternatives at this point but Eliza could not.

The story progresses and the reader gets to know Walter and Eliza very well. I was even able to suspend belief later in the book as I felt more compassion for Eliza and could empathize with her character differently and more fully. Knowing her better helped me understand her reasons for talking to Walter.

Laura Lippman is a master at keeping suspense up and of keeping the reader enthralled. Her writing is intelligent and emotive. She does terror so well that I had to put the book down at times because it was too much. However, that never stopped me from picking it up again.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 212 readers
PUBLISHER: William Morrow (August 17, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
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August 17, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Horror, Mystery/Suspense, US Mid-Atlantic, y Award Winning Author

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