Tuesday, September 21, 2010


First sentence: "'Iso, time for - ' Eliza Benedict paused at the foot of the stairs."

Eliza Benedict is living a normal, middle-class life with her husband and two daughters. The Benedicts have returned to the United States after living in England, and out of the blue a letter arrives for Eliza jolting her from her happy, normal life. As a teenager, Eliza - Elizabeth - was kidnapped by a man who raped and murdered numerous other girls. But the rapist didn't kill Eliza and eventually she was rescued. The letter that arrives is from the rapist who is in prison awaiting the death penalty. Through his communications, he weasels his way back into Eliza's life and the memories of that time resurface for Eliza, making her face them all over again.

The plot of I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is absolutely fascinating. The characters are as integral to making this plot work as the events are. Eliza has a submissive personality. Even as an adult she exhibits very submissive behaviors. She tries at times to exert a bit of independence, but that doesn't come naturally for her. Had she been a more dominant personality, the whole chemistry of the "relationship" between captor and captive would have been obliterated. And while there are times you want to scream at her to run away, to tell someone she's a victim, to leave a message, that wouldn't at all fit with her character. Had she fought back even in the slightest, Walter, her kidnapper, would have killed her. It's the chemistry between these two characters that feeds the events of the plot. And that symbiotic relationship between plot and characters makes the overall effect of the novel so much more disturbing.

Walter, as the antagonist in this story, creates an even greater level of complexity. He's desperately searching for love and affection, which is a bit contrary to the typical views of rape. While he is trying to control his environment, his ultimate goal is to convince these kidnapped girls, who he views as "his type," to love him. While there is a definite and obvious sickness to this mentality, there's also a sympathetic element to it. 

Lippman accents the book with section titles corresponding to song titles from the 80s. The titles emphasize not only the time period and the culture, but also the idea of dysfunctional love.

An element of the novel that takes more of a back seat to the main plot is the idea of capital punishment. Walter is awaiting his execution; Barbara is a passionate advocate for Walter, trying to get the death penalty removed from his sentence. On the other side of the coin is Trudy, the mother of one of Walter's victims. Trudy feels that her daughter will not have justice until Walter is executed, and she will do anything she needs to in order to make sure the sentence is carried out, including threaten Eliza's family when she thinks Eliza is plotting to help Walter. Lippman presents this explosive issue in all of its dimension, not as a flat right or wrong situation.

I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is a dark, hauntingly thought-provoking novel. It challenged me as a reader to see through the eyes of characters I wouldn't normally identify with; forcing me to look beyond how I would act and feel. That's an uncomfortable experience, but one I believe helps a reader to grow. I highly recommend Laura Lippman's I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE.

My review is part of the TLC Book Blog Tour for I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE. You can find a listing of other reviews of the novel at their site here. I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is available from William Morrow in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-06-170655-4) and also as an unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 978-0-06-198848-6).

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Kaye Barley September 21, 2010 at 8:19 AM  

This is a TERRIFIC review, Jen!
I just loved this book.
She just keeps getting better and better, I think. Amazingly so.

Kay September 21, 2010 at 9:04 AM  

Jen, I can see that you and I agreed on our feelings about this book. I really liked it a lot. I did stop at one point and tell my husband that I was finding it disturbing though. I think that was when I was empathizing so much with Eliza and also considering what it would be like to have a teenage daughter missing for 39 days. Very frightening!

L.J. Sellers September 21, 2010 at 10:35 AM  

Thanks for a great post. I also love stories that "challenge me to see through the eyes of characters I wouldn't normally identify with." I can't wait to read this one.

S. Krishna September 21, 2010 at 12:18 PM  

I thought this book was amazing - I'm glad you agree!

bermudaonion September 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM  

I get frustrated with submissive characters, but I know they're true to life since I've known people like that. You've made me want to read this book.

Chris September 21, 2010 at 7:21 PM  

I just got this book last week, and it's vaulted everything else to the top of my TBR pile. Really looking forward to cracking it open!

Jen Forbus September 21, 2010 at 7:24 PM  

Thanks for all the nice comments today everyone. This has definitely been receiving great reviews and I completely agree.

Chris, I hope you love it as much as I did. Laura is amazing at really getting inside her characters' heads.

kathy d. September 21, 2010 at 8:02 PM  

Laura Lippman is an amazing writer, especially her stand-alones, including "What the Dead Know," which was a good read.

Lippman is opposed to the death penalty and reiterated that on the Tavis Smiley Show a few weeks ago.

So it's intriguing to see how she writes about a character who is on death row and the dilemmas for a survivor of his abuse.

I want to read this but don't particularly like "disturbing" books so I'll have to figure out a way to read this, maybe a bit at time with humorous texts in-between, like Carl Haiasson.

Heather J. @ TLC Books September 21, 2010 at 8:45 PM  

I'm partial to Lippman since she's a Maryland girl like me. :) So glad that you enjoyed this book! Thanks for being on the tour.

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