Saturday, June 04, 2011

I'd Know You Anywhere

Back in the summer of 1985, when she was still a na├»ve fifteen-year-old, Eliza Benedict was kidnapped by a man she stumbled upon in the woods.  Little did she know at the time, that Walter Bowman had just finished disposing of his latest kidnapping victim moments before she came upon him.  Walter himself was unsure how much Eliza might have seen but, taking no chances, he grabbed her while he had the chance.  He would hold her for almost six weeks.

Flash forward to the present where Eliza is now the happily married mother of two little girls of her own, little girls who have no idea how lucky their mother was to have escaped the hands of a serial killer when she just a few years older than them.  As for Walter Bowman, he now owns the record for most years spent on Virginia’ s Death Row, but it appears that his time is finally running out.

Imagine Eliza’s shock when, out of nowhere, she receives a “Dear Elizabeth” letter from the killer, a letter in which he describes his reaction to spotting her in a society party photo in Washingtonian magazine, “Of course, you are older, a woman now.  You’ve been a woman for a while, obviously.  Still, I’d know you anywhere.”  Now what should Eliza do?

I’d Know You Anywhere is first-rate psychological drama.  Much of the drama, of course, takes place in the present as Eliza decides how to deal with Walter’s request to communicate with her before he is put to death.  But Lippman, using very effective dramatic flashbacks to 1985, also details exactly what happened to young Elizabeth during the six weeks she was Walter’s prisoner, an experience that makes her reluctant to ignore his letter even all these years later.

What really happened to Eliza?  She has yet to figure out why she was allowed to live when all of Walter’s other victims were killed almost immediately after being kidnapped and raped by him.  What was so different about their relationship that she was allowed to live?  She is not the only one to wonder; the mother of Walter’s last victim blames Eliza for her daughter’s death.  Eliza will never know the truth unless she sees Walter one last time – but the executioner’s clock is ticking.

Fans of psychological crime fiction will be fascinated by I’d Know You Anywhere because of the depth into which Lippman gets into the psyches of her three main characters: Walter (the death row criminal), Eliza (his only victim to survive), and Barbara (the woman who passes Walter’s letter to Eliza).  The book, in fact, compares favorably to similar ones written by some of the genre’s masters, such as Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) and Elizabeth George.

Rated at: 4.0

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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