I’m not usually one for the typical murder mystery, which is what Laura Lippman usually writes. But I’d Know You Anywhere is not so much about the crime itself as about its aftermath and how it affects the victims and those left behind.
Loosely based on a true crime, I’d Know You Anywhere is about a woman who was kidnapped and raped twenty years ago by a man who did not usually leave his victims alive. She was the only one of his victims to escape with her life.
When the book begins, Eliza has built a good life for herself, with a loving family and children. She has forgotten her traumatic experiences (at least as much as that is possible), and is dealing with the typical things a suburban housewife encounters in her life. Her family has just returned to the US from eight years in London, and Eliza and her family are readjusting to the US culture. Her husband’s previous jobs were somewhat low profile, but the job that brought them back to the US involves the occasional party or event, some of which are covered by the media.
It is a photograph in Washingtonian magazine that brings Eliza’s current whereabouts to the attention of Walter, her captor all those years ago. After a record twenty years on death row, his execution date has been set (for the third time, but that’s the charm, right?), and he is out of appeals, looking desperately for a way to save his life. With the help of a sympathetic anti-death penalty advocate, Barbara, Walter reaches out to Eliza, first with letters, then convincing her to speak to him on the phone, and finally, at the end of the book, an actual visit to the “Death House” on the eve of his execution. Throughout the evolution of Walter’s scheme, we see a strength in Eliza that she had not exhibited since her capture twenty years before.
Beneath the main plot of Eliza’s journey is the story of Mrs. Tackett, the mother of the murdered victim that finally put Walter on death row. It was painful to read her story as she anxiously waited for the execution of her daughter’s murderer. Twenty years later, Trudy Tackett was still as bitter and sad as the day that she lost her daughter. I simply cannot imagine holding on to such pain for such a long time. Her story intersects with Eliza’s when, through a connection in the prison, Trudy learns that Eliza has been communicating with Walter. Trudy had always believed that Eliza was actually Walter’s girlfriend, and willingly helped him murder her daughter.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, reading it straight through last weekend. My only complaint is the somewhat contrived inclusion of popular music in the story and in the headings of some of the parts of the book. This does not, however, prevent me from saying…