~ Synopsis ~
Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life with her successful husband and children, thirteen-year-old Iso and eight-year-old Albie. But her tranquility is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects – or wants – to hear from: Walter Bowman. “There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are old now. Still, i’d know you anywhere.”
In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears.
Though Eliza wants nothing to do with him, she’s never forgotten that Walter was most unpredictable when ignored. Desperate to shelter her children from this undisclosed trauma in her past, she cautiously makes contact with Walter. She’s always wondered why Walter let her live, and perhaps now he’ll tell her – and share the truth about his other victims.
Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable, cocooned life, will do anything to protect it — even if it means finally facing the events of that horrifying summer and the terrible truth she’s kept buried inside.
I’ve been holding onto this book – in hardback no less, for probably 2 1/5 years. I grabbed it one day browsing around Powell’s bookstore in downtown Portland. I was intrigued from the synopsis, but just never got around to reading it. Until now.
I blame The Girl on the Train – I was in the mood for something similar, something with a little suspense, something with a dark plot that will leave me riveted. And I was not disappointed.
This book – though not overly complicated, weaves us through a number of stories. Eliza’s present, Elizabeth’s past – and the relationship she’s cultivated with Walter Bowman in both. Now – an adult, wife and mother she’s obviously leery of anything to do with Walter, after all she spent over a month with him when she was just fifteen years old, she knows what’s he’s capable of, but mostly she’s worried what will happen if she ignores him – even though Walter himself, and everyone involved won’t allow her to.
Eliza has managed to put everything behind her – she’s found a man who loves her, she’s built a beautiful family, the last thing she needs is any reminders of those weeks she was held captive with Walter. But even so, questions from the past come lingering – complicated questions no one should ever have to think of…. the why’s, the how-comes, and something that’s haunted Eliza this entire time…. why didn’t you kill me?
Walter – though written as a fairly simple character is anything but – and it’s frightening how unassuming his characterizations are illustrated. As if the horrible things he’s done is just something anyone would do given the situation. His rationalizations were incredibly telling – and now Eliza is forced to confront all of her past – and perhaps everyone else’s that suffered.
As the story moves between past and present Laura Lippman gives us a detailed view of how just five weeks can change the lives of people – the people you meet, the experiences you share and how those affect everyone involved. It was interesting and at times disturbing. She is brutal in her honest narration. I’d Know You Anywhere left me satisfied, yet disturbed, but only in the best possible way a book can.
About the Author, Laura Lippman
Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.
Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.
Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995 but continues to freelance for several newspapers, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller. (via the author’s website)