Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow, 2010
Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program
First Line: "Iso, time for---"
After living in England for six years, 38-year-old married mother of two Eliza Benedict has returned with her family to Bethesda, Maryland. In their affluent neighborhood having lived in England has a great deal of cachet. Her teenage daughter, Isobel, is turning into an angry, snobbish stranger while her young son, Albie, is still a lovable little boy who's eager to please. The last thing Eliza ever expected was a letter from Walter Bowman waiting in the mailbox for her.
Back in 1985 when Eliza was fifteen, she was kidnapped and kept for weeks by Walter Bowman as he made a endless road trip through a tri-state area. She is there when Walter abducts and murders another teenage girl, but fortunately is rescued and returned to her parents and sister shortly thereafter. Naturally this experience has had repercussions on Eliza's life and relationships ever since.
Walter is now on death row and ostensibly wants to make amends before his execution. He uses as go-between an advocate for prisoners, Barbara LaFortuny. Eliza knows he has a different agenda-- as she has her own. Lippman alternates chapters between the present and Eliza's nightmare back in 1985, and what unfolds is a masterful novel about fear, manipulation and survival.
After such a horrendous experience, everyone has had the tendency to close ranks around Eliza to protect her. Who wouldn't? But Eliza learns that one of the consequences of this protection is that she's given up a lot of control over her own life.
I love the way Lippman holds each character up to the light like a prism, and moves that prism a bit at a time, uncovering nuances of behavior and thought that had previously been unseen. It's the major reason why opinions about characters can change the further one progresses into the book. The more one sees the character, the more one thinks, and a more reliable opinion is formed. Lippman even had me wavering over Walter Bowman's character until she'd twisted that prism around a few more times.
If you like reading a novel that worms its way into your mind with brilliant plotting and nuanced characterization, I'd Know You Anywhere is a book for you.