Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, by Laura Lippman

I'd Know You AnywhereI'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

22 years ago, Eliza Benedict became briefly famous as the only one of serial killer Walter Bowman's victims to survive. Now, Bowman has contacted Eliza through an intermediary and says he wants to meet her. Laura Lippman deftly sets up this chilling premise within the first few pages, and the rest of the book is a steady, inexorable tightening of the tension towards Eliza's confrontation with the man who so irrevocably altered her life.

The premise of a serial killer manipulating someone from inside prison walls inevitably invites a comparison to Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter books. But quiet, apparently contrite Walter manages to be creepy in a much more subtle and ultimately more disturbing way that the more lurid fictional serial killers. I can put down Harris and breathe easy in the belief knowing a real criminal super-genius like Lecter doesn't exist outside of fiction; I know Walter Bowmans exist in the real world.

Which brings us to another great thing about this book, and about Laura Lippman's work in general: her mastery of the small, mundane details of modern American middle-class suburban life and how she juxtaposes the everyday with the horribly out-of-joint to make the evil seem even more unsettling. Stephen King does this a lot as well, but unlike King, you can always depend on Laura Lippman to bring things to a satisfying ending.

Superb craftsmanship, characters you can believe, steadily building suspense and a great ending...yep, it's a Laura Lippman book all right, and one of her best.

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1 comment:

Dana King said...

JD, I have a question for you that I'm reluctant to ask in public, but we're all friends here, right?

I'll definitely read this book. WHAT THE DEAD KNOW is one of the best books I've ever read, and Lippman's collection of short stories, HARDLY KNEW HER, is great, as well.

I know she made her name on the Tess Monahan novels, but I just can't get into them, to the degree it seems to me they're written by a different writer. The standalones have everything I look for in a book, while the Monahan's read 9to me) like another series checking the boxes to garner as wide an audience as possible.

What am I missing here?