Published by: HarperCollins
Published on: August 2010
Page Count: 373 pages
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased with Audible.com credit
Narrator: Linda Emond
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and eBook
Before listening to I’d Know You Anywhere, I’d never before read any of Laura Lipman’s work. I’ve heard glowing things about her and was very excited to begin reading this book. I was expecting a thriller, especially given the title and the early plot. Eliza Benedict, a mother-of-two, who was kidnapped at 15 and spent nearly 7 weeks of her life held captive by Walter Bowman, receives a letter from her captor out of the blue. In that letter, he ominously tells her that he’d know her anywhere. Although he is on death row for the murder of two of his other victims, I immediately began to worry that he’d escape. On top of that, he had found a champion in Barbara LaFortuny, a rude, obsessed woman intent on protecting Walter’s life. Surely, I thought, something bad was going to happen.
After reading Walter’s initial letter, the novel travels back in time to revisit the time Eliza was on the road with him as his captive. This was told from alternately from Eliza and Walter’s point of view. In between, Eliza has to deal with the upheaval his contact has brought back into her life, including unwanted contact with LaFortuny and the mother of Bowman’s last murder victim. Her children do not know about her past and she is hesitant to let them know. The family has just recently moved back to the Baltimore area from several years in London. There was enough going on in children’s lives to introduce them to something so frightening that happened to their mother. Battling the demands of family against the threats from her past, life becomes increasingly difficult for Eliza.
As it happens, I was listening to this book on my way to a training session in Richmond during the last half. It was fun to be in Charlottesville and in Richmond while the story was taking place there. This was my first experience with Linda Emond as narrator. I enjoyed her style and would recommend her. I checked her out on Audible.com and she has narrated several of Laura Lippman’s novels. As this was my first time around I can’t speak to this with any authority, but it would seem that author and narrator have good chemistry.
Although the back story was very interesting, there were a few things that irritated me:
- The nicknames for Eliza’s children. I realize that this is entirely a personal thing. They really didn’t work for me at all. I grew somewhat used to Alby (sp?) over time (although I always got confused about how old he really was because Alby seems more like a nickname for a toddler, not a school aged child), but each time I heard Iso it took me out of the story just long enough to grumble.
- The purposefully politically correct family. I am all for families doing their best to live a good life, but when a main character or a family is painfully politically correct it drives me absolutely nuts. What I mean by purposeful is this – instead of just doing the right thing, the author must point out exactly why it’s the right thing so that the (dumb/uninformed) reader doesn’t miss it (perhaps not the intent, but I get the slapped upside the head feeling). For example, instead of simply taking the children to the pound to adopt a dog, the Benedicts had a discussion about it first. While discussion about major decisions is important in a family setting, it can feel like overkill in a novel. Had they simply gone to the pound, it would have been nice, working well to establish the family’s character. Actions speak louder than lectures.
- *** Spoiler *** This book was not much of a thriller. While I thought the letter and the flashbacks were initially building up into something satisfyingly scary, in the end Eliza and her family were in no physical danger. Once I realized that Walter wasn’t going to make an escape, I was very disappointed. Sure, Barbara LaFortuny was nuts and Mrs. Tackett held a good grudge, but they never posed any physical danger. I would consider this book to be more of a psychological awakening for Eliza than any sort of thriller. *** End Spoiler ***
While this novel didn’t end up having the thriller feel I’d been hoping for, what it did very well was explore the long lasting impact kidnapping can have on a person and his/her family. I didn’t much care for Eliza at first because of the way she lived her life behind the scenes of her husband and family. Not too far in, that all started to make sense and made for a very satisfying conclusion. It also made Eliza’s relationship with Vonnie pop. I’d Know You Anywhere also highlighted both sides of the capital punishment debate in an interesting way – the characters on both sides were quite unlikable. Despite those items listed above, I enjoyed the story and would definitely recommend this book and Laura Lippman.