Vanessa's Reviews > I'd Know You Anywhere

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
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's review
Mar 31, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: bookmarks, read-in-2011

The premise of this novel was enough to hook me (along with the good reviews and the reputation of the author): Elizabeth Lerner, now a suburban wife and mother, receives a letter from Walter Bowman, the man who abducted and raped her when she was a teenager and is now on death row. After seeing her picture in a Washington DC paper, his letter includes the strange and inappropriately familiar observation "I'd know you anywhere." Elizabeth is horrified, but also morbidly fascinated as she was his only victim who survived. The rest, an unknown number of teenage girls, were all killed shortly after he abducted them, but Elizabeth was his hostage for 2 months before being rescued during a routine traffic stop. Through a series of events, including some badgering from a particularly odious prisoners' rights advocate, she is drawn into communicating with her kidnapper who is now facing down his looming death sentence for the rape and murder of his last victim, taken when Elizabeth herself was still his hostage.

This book in other hands (take your Jodi Picoult for example) could have turned into a Lifetime movie spec but Lippman, a former reporter and the wife of David Simon (the creator of "The Wire") has a lot more on her mind. This is a novel that covers topics ranging from the death penalty, the reliability of childhood memories and eyewitness testimony, the flaws and illogic of the justice system, and the unsavory but undeniable relationship between victim and perpetrator. Despite all of this, it's not a screed for or against the death penalty. What it is is a story about how that crime's effects progressively rippled out amongst a group of people including Elizabeth, her family, the parents of one of the murdered girls, and even Walter himself. There's also the question of what Walter wants from Elizabeth now, and exactly what happened on the night that the last girl died. This includes the uneasy question of what exactly was Elizabeth's involvement. As much as I disliked a lot of the characters in the book, I had to read the last 150 pages at once to find out.

If I had any complaints, it's that Elizabeth's character is at times almost too polite and too eager to avoid conflict. One event in particular involving someone essentially stalking and badgering Elizabeth as she walked her children to school made me think even someone that taciturn would be motivated at that point to pepper spray a bitch.

If you are looking for an action-packed thriller, look elsewhere and don't feel guilty. Come back to this novel when you are in the mood for a book that will make you keep thinking about it long after you are done.
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