This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I read this blurb on USAToday sometime last year:
Here's a scary what-if scenario.
Suppose you were the only victim of a rapist/serial killer to walk away with your life? Suppose two decades later this convicted criminal sends you a note inviting you to visit him in prison?
I was instantly hooked. Until I saw the author's name.

I read What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman several years ago. Again, the premise of this book was up my alley. I re-read my "review" and it sucks. I remember this novel disappointing me greatly but I have no idea why, without some clue in my post, which is not there.

My fear of spoiling a novel for some reader prevented me from being more detailed. I have since changed my thoughts on that and now give myself to permission to write whatever I want about a book.

This one, while not as disappointing as the previous novel I read, definitely did not stand up to my expectation.

First: Eliza Benedict and her family have just moved back to the US from England. She is surprised by a letter sent to her by a name she hasn't used in years, Elizabeth Lerner and once she reads it, she realizes it is a letter from Walter Bowman, the man who kidnapped her when she was 15 years old and held her hostage for 39 days. He is on death row for murdering two other younger girls, possibly more.

The story had an interesting flow: Eliza's current life, 15 year old Elizabeth as the crime takes place, Walter Bowman in real life and Walter Bowman during the time of the crime. This was a great way to play out the story. Unfortunately, the "substance" of the story was not very tittilating.

Eliza, as an adult, is annoying. She is weak, timid, and a big scaredy-cat. Yes, perhaps she should be, being a victim of a heinous crime. But, the crime took place over 20 years before, and she speaks of Walter as a person she knew, still knows, extremely well.

And the same goes for Walter Bowman, who also points out how weak the young 15 year old girl unattractive she was, and she was merely a victim out of happenstance: he was burying his teen victim, she was crossing a creek and saw him (although the body was already in the ground; but Bowman didn't know what she had seen...which was nothing). The Bowman parts are about an egotistical man who searched for attractive young girls to "meet" but Elizabeth was just someone to manipulate and control.

In the current time, Bowman still uses the grown-up Eliza to manipulate and get her to recant her testimony, his only shot of getting out of being put to death.

And Eliza is allowing it to happen, under the premise that she is trying to find out how many other victims he had; that Bowman, after over 20 years, will now confide in her as to the number of his victims.

There was no substance to Eliza and it was difficult for me to feel any sympathy for her as an adult. As a child, yes, but there is often a blur in how Eliza/Elizabeth act/react/think that makes it muddled.

Bowman is an interesting character, but again, his true nature isn't developed enough and the actual number of victims and what he actually did to them does not become very clear.

The one thing I did actually become more intrigued about was the fact that Lippman based this story on a true event. Because I am fascinated with crimes, especially something like this, I wanted to know more about the actual crime. Unfortunately, I can't get the right search terms to get close to something so I'm waiting until someone else figures it out then I'll jump on that bandwagon.

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