Tag Archives: Mystery

Review & Book Tour: I’d Know You Anywhere

I'd Know You Anywhere Book Cover

I’d Know You Anywhere
By Laura Lippman
HarperCollins
August 2010
373pp

The Short of It:

I’d Know You Anywhere forces you to constantly reassess the appropriateness of human interaction and to consider the boundaries that exist within all of us.

The Rest of It:

In the summer of ’85, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth is kidnapped by a serial killer and held hostage for several weeks. To Walter, Elizabeth is different from the other girls he’s kidnapped. So different in fact, that Elizabeth is the only one who lives to tell about her ordeal. Years later, Elizabeth (now called Eliza) is married, living in the suburbs with her husband Peter and her two children, Iso and Albie. As she lives her life,  Walter sits on Death Row for the murder of another girl.

One day, Walter happens upon a photograph of Eliza(beth) in a magazine he is reading. With the help of a friend, he sends Eliza(beth) a letter saying that he’d know her anywhere. Confused over why he would want to contact her now and terrified of her children finding out about her past, Eliza(beth) sets out to explore a relationship that she’d just as soon leave in the past.

This book is part mystery and part psychological thriller and although mystery is not my thing, the psychological thriller part is. I’m fascinated by the human mind and the complexity of human relationships. The relationship between Eliza(beth) and Walter is disturbing at times. Lippman manages to create sympathy where no sympathy should exist. Walter is a serial killer, but there are times when I understood where he was coming from. As disturbing as this is for me to admit, it helped me understand Eliza(beth) and why she would even consider having a conversation with this man after what he did to her.

The mechanics of control and the lack thereof are big here. Walter can read Eliza(beth) pretty well. He also knows how to push her buttons and as much as Eliza(beth) wants to, she cannot put him completely out of her life. She has her own demons to battle and as the lone survivor, she is often misunderstood by the other victim’s parents. Mainly because she never tried to escape,  and she failed to save Walter’s last victim even though she was in a position to do so.

In addition to the main characters, Lippman introduces us to Barbara, the friend on the outside who is determined to save Walter from death row. Let me tell you, Barbara is a piece of work. Well-to-do but rude as hell and full of herself. I did not like her at all and although she too, was a victim of violence, I felt nothing for her but contempt. The inclusion of such a character is interesting because it just goes to show you that there are all kinds of people out there and just knowing this puts you in a vulnerable position.

This was my first experience with Lippman’s writing and although I felt that the characters were emotionally reserved in places, I can see myself picking up another Lippman book in the future. Also, it should be noted that the violence depicted in this novel is not written with great detail. You are given just enough to know what happened, the rest is left up to your imagination.

Laura Lippman

To visit Laura Lippman’s website, click here.

To view Lippman’s other TLC tour stops, click here.

Source: A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour and to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of the book.

Review: Case Histories

Case Histories
By Kate Atkinson
Little Brown and Company
October 2005
336pp

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

A breathtaking story of families divided, love lost and found, and the mysteries of fate.

Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. Thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters unearth a shocking clue to Olivia’s disappearance among the clutter of their childhood home. . .

Case Two: Theo delights in his daughter Laura’s wit, effortless beauty, and selfless love. But her first day as an associate in his law firm is also the day when Theo’s world turns upside down. . .

Case Three: Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, she’d made a grave mistake and would spend the rest of her life paying for it–until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

As Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge. Inextricably caught up in his clients grief, joy, and desire, Jackson finds their unshakable need for resolution very much like his own.

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

At first glance, Case Histories appears to be a collection of stand-alone stories but as the novel unfolds, they come together to form a very different kind of mystery.

The Rest of It:

Often, I find mysteries to be a bit predictable in nature. For this reason, I typically steer clear of them. However, my book club picked Case Histories for this month and although it’s definitely a mystery, it’s sort of veiled in its delivery. Meaning, it doesn’t hit you over the head with its mysterious-ness.

Each case is, well…a tad shocking. Shocking in that these characters tend to think out loud and their observations and feelings over a particular person, place or thing are so honest that at times, you suck in a breath and say, “Wow.”

I believe the idea was to have the stories alternate, and then eventually mesh into one. This happens, but rather loosely. You aren’t given all the details, but given enough to know what happens by the end of the novel. Although the result was a tad predictable, what happens within each case, is not.

In the end, I’m not sure I liked how the cases came together. I almost like them better as stand-alone stories. As I read each case, I was left wondering about the people within them. As horrible as some of these characters are, I could easily relate to them.  But given the entire situation, I lost the ability to relate to them. Well, some of them.

As you can see, this review is a collection of my rambling thoughts because this reading experience left me rather antsy. It wasn’t a short story collection but in my opinion it didn’t really read like a novel either.

This was my first experience with Atkinson and I found her characters to be deeply conflicted (just the way I like them) but the format left me wanting more. Atkinson has a new novel out, When Will There Be Good News? Has anyone read it?

My book club meets later this week so I’ll share their thoughts in my Sunday Salon post.

Source: Purchased.