Laura Lippman examines the effect of a terrible crime on the life of one victim in I’d Know You Anywhere. That phrase is what a serial killer writes from Death Row when he locates Eliza Benedict through a society photo in Washingtonian magazine. Eliza is many years past the summer when she was abducted and forced to accompany sexual predator and murderer Walter Bowman while he trolled for new victims and tried to elude capture. She is married to a successful financial analyst with two kids and they have recently returned from living in London.
Eliza is a full time mother and happy with her lot when the letter comes out of the blue one day. The careful handwriting looks feminine but there is no mistaking the tone of the letter. Bowman is as manipulative as ever, gracious and reasoned in his request. He wants to call her. And she is afraid to ignore him—she knows he retaliates horribly when his overtures are rebuffed.
Things get stranger and stranger as Eliza is forced to relive the 15-year-old Elizabeth Lerner’s ordeal, an episode she has put behind her. Her supportive husband points out that Bowman is securely incarcerated and scheduled, after years of exhaustive appeals, for execution. Her children absorb her attention as they each struggle with an adjustment to the experience of living in a new culture. An oddly menacing anti-death penalty advocate begins stalking Eliza and the mother of one murdered girl tracks her down. She gradually allows Bowman more access to her life.
Lippman shifts between Eliza’s present life and her past self, Bowman’s mind and that of Holly Tackett’s mother—the victim for whom Bowman finally received the death penalty. For a while I was bothered by the idea that Eliza’s children would end up physically at risk somehow, as a plot device. But the terrors in this novel are subtler and more chilling. I’d Know You Anywhere is a psychological suspense that traces the twisted path of a killer, the vigilant attempts Eliza has made to keep her demons at bay, and what it takes to reach closure when your world has been ripped open and never wholly mended.
There are surprises in this story about an old, solved crime. And there is a necessary unraveling that provokes Eliza to leave the intentional cocoon of her safe life and risk the truth—about the past and about the present. What she finds frees her for the real challenges present in her reclaimed life and family and releases her, finally, from the pernicious influence of a psychopath she would know anywhere.
I’d Know You Anywhere: A Novel Laura Lippman | William Morrow 2010