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.