Tag Archives: crime fiction

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (2010)

At age 15, Elizabeth Lerner was kidnapped and held captive for 39 days by Walter Bowman.  Unsure as to how much she had seen when she stumbled upon him digging in the woods, Walter felt like he had no choice but to take Elizabeth.  He certainly didn’t chose her like he chose the others.  Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who survived.

Flash forward twenty some-odd years.  Walter is on death row. Elizabeth Lerner is now Eliza Benedict, wife of Peter, mother of Iso and Albie.  Eliza has managed to carve out a comfortable existence, one in which she has not let what happened to her when she was 15 define the outcome of her entire life.  But when Eliza’s past slams into her present, she is forced to revisit that fateful time and face some tough questions about what happened between her and Walter.

I was underwhelmed by I’d Know You Anywhere.  Which was disappointing because the premise was so intriguing.  But I think this book tried to be too many things (thriller?  suspense novel?  psychological exploration?)  and ultimately failed to deliver sufficiently on any of those counts.  I felt bombarded with too many overt references to current pop culture tidbits.  Below is one I found particularly irritating and cheesy:

“Peter loved shopping for school supplies, if only because it allowed him to perform his own version of the commercial, the one in which the parent danced ecstatically to ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.'” (p. 11)

I also found Lippman’s writing amateur-ish and pretentious at times.  She uses a lot of big vocabulary that doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of her writing style (similar to what Walter does…hmmm) and sometimes underestimates her reader’s intelligence by over-explaining her ideas.  For example, after expressing her distaste for viewing herself in photos, she claims that she and Peter are mismatched, “like and otter and a …hedgehog.”  Ok, that’s fine, but then she goes on to explain her simile:

“Peter was the otter, with his compact , still hard-muscled body and thick, shiny hair, while she was the hedgehog.” (p. 51)

Uhm, yeah, I got that.

But for all of the things that irked me, I still found myself unable to stop reading.  What did Walter have on Elizabeth?  Sadly, the climactic scene between Walter and Elizabeth was…not.  We found out no new information, there was no huge, surprising turn of events, nothing. 

According to the jacket, this is Lippman’s first stand alone novel.  Her other series have been on the New York Times bestseller lists, but it’s not likely I’ll pick one up any time soon.

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