Book Review: “I’d Know You Anywhere”

I recently finished Laura Lippman’s book “I’d Know You Anywhere”, which I’m pretty sure I found in a free bin outside of a thriftshop.  That should’ve been my first clue.

Okay, that was unnecessarily harsh.  And one of my resolutions this year is to be kinder.  I’m off to a terrible start.  Not only was the writing not that bad, some of my favorite books have come from free bins!  2nd and Charles for the win!

The premise of this book was promising–Walter, a death row (spree/serial killer) inmate reaches out after decades of separation to the only Eliza, victim he left alive.  Told mostly in flashbacks from the killer and victim’s perspective, and in the present tense from the victim’s perspective, you quickly get the sense that there was more to their relationship than either has ever admitted–even to themselves.  The flashbacks were well written, but I found the present tense bits slow and, for the most part, unnecessary.  I understand that it is necessary to go into Eliza’s home life at the beginning to get a sense of her world, and to establish her mindset as a happy housewife/mother.  In addition, it is equally important to bring in bits about her children and marriage to create a sort of dichotomy and tension between that and her inner turmoil stemming from suppressed childhood trauma, but that didn’t prevent me from getting annoyed each time there was elementary school drama with her children.

The main two characters were well developed, but startlingly unruffled given the premise of the novel.  Eliza seemed unfazed by the experience of her youth, and while time had passed and she presumably had healed some, it frustrated me that even in the midst of her kidnapping she was acting like she was on a camping trip!  Where was the stress, the racing thoughts, the typical teenage reaction to the possibility of never seeing her family again…the DRAMA?

The supporting cast almost exclusively fell into two camps–maddeningly and unnecessarily detailed, or boring and underdeveloped.

As for the Great Mystery itself–what really happened during those six weeks of “captivity”–I would be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed with how it was handled.  Perhaps because I’ve been reading too much Gillian Flynn recently, or because I immediately started thinking about how I would personally have handled the premise…regardless, I found the “secrets” of what happened between Walter and Eliza during their time together…wanting (although that’s not nearly strong enough a word.)  As it dawned on me that the chunk of remaining pages in my right hand was thinning, I took inventory of my emotions and found I was still woefully unsatisfied–like eating just the rolls and cranberry sauce at a Thanksgiving feast.  I kept wishing for some type of “Gone Girl” unreliable narrator twist.  “That’s all?” was the foremost emotion for the last 50 pages.

And I look back and find myself subconsciously trying to avoid giving spoilers, it dawns on me that there’s really no point!  The big secret is that there is no secret!  Anyone who reads this book will know what I mean.

All that said, I thought it was well written from a from a grammatical standpoint, and very pleasant to read–some of the phrasing was downright poetic.  Ms. Lippman does have a way with words!

What would I rate it?

6/10.

It was better than average, but only slightly.

Appropriate?

Language-PG-13

Sex-PG-13

Violence-PG (that’s right.  I would really only rate it PG.  Many things are intimated, but not explicitly depicted.  For a book about a serial killer, that should tell you something right there.)

Would I read others by her?

Perhaps one more, with an equally stimulating premise, to see if her reluctance to really get down and dirty with her characters and story was a momentary lapse, or a character flaw.  (Badum-psh!  See what I did there?!)

Till next time all!

Noelle

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