Sunday, August 29, 2010
I'd Know You Anywhere
I like Laura Lippman. She is a thoughtful writer and never fails in putting together a story worth reading, so I knew I would want to read whatever was out there with her name on it. This book does not disappoint. It is a psychological thriller, I suppose, though most of the action happened twenty years earlier than the story-telling takes place. It is the story of a low key mom/housewife who is delighted to have that role and has no aspirations for a more fulfilling life than the one she is living.
What we soon learn is that twenty years ago she was kidnapped and held for around 6 weeks by a man who was later convicted of the murder of a young girl, a man who has spent most of those 20 years on Death Row. The question is, "Why was she allowed to survive?" None of the other girls, and there were several, were allowed to. Ms. Lippman unfolds the story gradually, from the perspective of young Walter Bowman and then 15 year old Elizabeth Lerner.
When Elizabeth returned to her family, they modified her name and moved to a different town and a new high school to protect her from the morbid curiosity of folks who knew her story and would have been familiar with the trial and it's aftermath. Her husband knew her history but she has never told her children. She is chilled to the bone when out of the blue she receives a chatty letter from Walter, who had seen a picture of her with her husband on the Society page of the paper, and as he wrote, "I'd know you anywhere..." The letter had been sent to a "pen pal" of Walter's, a woman who objects to the death penalty under any circumstances. She uses her internet skills to learn Eliza's mailing address and forward the letter, which prison officials would never have allowed him to send.
Other characters are part of the story and each has a viewpoint on the death penalty. One is the mother of the young girl that Walter was convicted of killing. She has spent the last 20 years grieving for her daughter and looking forward to watching Walter die in the electric chair. Both of these women try to persuade Eliza to act in the interests they believe to be right...either help Walter avoid death or help him to die at age 46 at the hands of the State.
But Walter has a plan of his own for Eliza and he has always been able to make her do whatever he needed for her to do.