Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Elizabeth Lerner gives insight into the Elizabeth Smarts of the world

I'd Know You Anywhere: A Novel
by Laura Lippman

Once upon a time, Eliza Benedict was Elizabeth Lerner. Elizabeth became Eliza at the age of 15, after she was abducted for 39 days by spree killer and rapist Walter Bowman. She was the only girl who survived. In the years since that autumn, she's carefully guarded her privacy and done everything possible to move on with her life--with more success than most people who have never been traumatized. She's happily married to her college sweetheart, and the contented stay-at-home mom to two.

All of that changes with the posting of a letter. After 22 years on Virginia's death row, Walter Bowman has seen her photo in Washingtonian Magazine, and as he writes, "I'd know you anywhere." This first communication is the beginning of increasingly escalating contact from the inmate and his associates. What really happened all those years ago? And what does Walter want today? These are the questions that Laura Lippman sets before readers in this well-written, richly-characterized novel of suspense. The story being told unfolds beautifully, and as disturbing a character as Walter is, he's equally fascinating. And at times, I wasn't even sure if he was the biggest monster in the book.

After her long, celebrated career, this was my introduction to Laura Lippman's work. It won't be the last novel I read. How delightful to know she has an extensive backlist now waiting to be explored.

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