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Laura Lippman: I'd Know You Anywhere

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Laura Lippman reads and signs at Barnes and Noble, Johns Hopkins, 3330 St. Paul St., 7 p.m. Sept. 7.

I’d Know You Anywhere

By Laura Lippman

William Morrow, Hardback

Local author Laura Lippman has spent the past 13 years exploring her reporter-turned-investigator Tess Monaghan creation—from her 1997 debut Baltimore Blues through 2008’s Another Thing to Fall, with a New York Times Magazine serial in there as well. She’s cranked out 11 Monaghan stories in all, but starting with 2003’s Every Secret Thing Lippman has also spun stand-alone thrillers, and this month she adds I’d Know You Anywhere to her increasingly solid collection of Tess-less treats. In the novel, Eliza Benedict, a wife and mother of two, moves back to Maryland after years of living in London. Now in Bethesda, memories of what she calls “the summer I was 15” come flooding back—especially after a letter from Walter, the rapist/killer who kidnapped and held her hostage for six weeks, arrives.

During the subsequent court case and conviction, her psychiatrist parents moved the family and allowed the then-Elizabeth to change her name, resulting in a pretty healthy woman, considering. Besides a general fear for her children—especially her 13-year old daughter Iso—and dreams of the girls who didn’t survive meeting Walter, guilt and confusion born of being the one who got away appear to be the worst lingering results.

As Walter demands her attention from death row, Eliza confronts her memories of the two of them traveling between Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, on the run and hiding in plain sight. And his hold over her hasn’t ended: “The commonwealth of Virginia was going to kill her tormentor—Eliza was startled to consider that word, to see for the first time the hidden mentor inside the sadist.”

Anywhere also offers Walter’s perceptions, a contrast to Eliza’s memories and version. Overthinking everything that she said during her captivity because of its possible effect on Walter’s mood changed how she responds to the world. She’s an incredibly conscious woman whose inner life gets spilled on the page because she doesn’t talk about it much.

Lippman realizes that even a well-spun yarn reads flat if the characters don’t resonate, if there isn’t anything multi-dimensional about them. And not just in their creation and actions—Tess is as interesting as the messes in which she finds herself a part —but also in their own insight. Complex characters such as Eliza and Walter are Lippman’s forte, even as she provides the genre with a fresh and frighteningly real story.

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