Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

All I can say is “wow” after finishing I’d Know You Anywhere. It is a powerhouse of a book, one that I literally could not put down. I’d Know You Anywhere is a riveting suspense thriller that causes one to question your position on the death penalty and the justice system.

Eliza Benedict has returned from England with her family and settled near her hometown in Maryland with her loving husband Peter, her troubled teenage daughter Iso, and her precocious young son, Albie. They seem the picture perfect family (except for troubles with their teenage daughter) until the day that Eliza receives a letter from convicted murderer Walter Bowman.

As a teenager, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held captive for weeks. She was also his only victim that was left alive. Eliza has spent her time since trying to stay out of the spotlight and to let no one know her past. Changing her name from Elizabeth to Eliza and taking her husband’s last name helped. But what helped most of all was staying out of the area. After seeing her picture with her husband at a society event in the paper after her return, Walter knows that Eliza is his last chance to get off of death row. His execution by the state of Virginia is eminent, and he plays a game of manipulation with Eliza as his one chance to save himself.

What follows is a riveting story. The novel flashes back and forth from the past to the present. As Walter starts his life of crime in 1985 and kidnaps Elizabeth in the past, in the future Eliza tries to hold her family together and protect her privacy. I found myself wanting to know how the situation ended in 1985 and also what was going to ultimately happen to Eliza and Walter in the present.

Also riveting was the sheer canvas of fascinating characters. Lippman had a wonderful cast of three-dimensional characters that were captivating. Even if I didn’t agree with their motivations or ideas, I could understand where they were coming from. Such characters included Barbara, an activist against the death penalty and Trudy, the mother of one of Walter’s victims. The characters all came alive and seemed like ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

The crimes itself are every mother’s worst nightmare. It disturbed me to think that such evil could exist in the world and makes me want to lock up my children. To imagine your 13-year old daughter kidnapped from the end of your driveway is horrifying. What was great about this book is that it doesn’t focus on the violence of the crimes, but more on the effects on the people involved.

I’d Know You Anywhere was our book club pick for the Kewaunee Library Book Club in December. Our book club has been on hiatus, but I’m glad it’s going again. Everyone loved the book (except for one person who did not read it and shall remain nameless) and it provided riveting discussion.

As Kathy pointed out at book club, one of the best quotes in the novel is as follows:

“They were well today, but that could end tomorrow. Of course that was true of every happy family. The difference was that the Lerners knew. Having been unlucky once, they could be unlucky again. There was no protection, no quota system when it came to luck. It was like that moment in math when a child learns the odds of heads or tails is always one-in-two, no matter how many times one has flipped the coin and gotten heads. Every flip, the odds are the same. Every day, you could be unlucky all over again.”

A quote I enjoyed (being a Janeite myself) was “No. I shortened my name in high school to avoid . . . complications. Then I met Peter, and we decided to marry, and well, do you know your Jane Austen? Can you imagine what it’s like to be wonderfully close to Elizabeth Bennet, if only on legal documents? It’s pretty much every Janeite’s fantasy.”

This is my second Laura Lippman novel that I have loved this year (after The Girl in the Green Raincoat). I can’t wait to read The Most Dangerous Thing, which is on my shelf taunting me.

Overall, I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman is one of the best books I’ve read this year and will definitely be on my “top ten” list for the year. I can’t say enough good things about it and I feel like I’m not describing it as great as it was. Just believe me and pick up a copy for yourself! As Stephen King states, I’d Know You Anywhere is “the best suspense novel of the year.”

Book Source: Review Copy from HarperCollins Publishers. Thank-you!


  1. I read this sometime ago and loved it. I thought the way the book went back and forth between two periods was very well handled.

  2. Wow! This is not my usual choice of genre but it sounds really good. Excellent review, Laura!

  3. Oh goodness, Pinned it..gonna have to get it. Looks like a keep me up all nighter!

  4. I'm so glad I saw this post. I remembered this title when I came across it in the library and picked it up. I'm about a third of the way through the book and am enjoying it immensely. Thanks for the recommendation. Lippman's writing is intelligent and always interesting.