Finished: Oct. 31, 2010
First Published: Aug. 17, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Psychological suspense
"Iso, time for -"
Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.
Reason for Reading: I've read one of Lippman's series books and it was ok but I love her standalones and read each new one as it comes out.
Eliza Benedict lives a perfectly content suburban mother and housewife life. Her husband has a high paying job in finance which she really doesn't understand and she has two children, a 13yo girl and an 8yo boy. Then one day her past meets up with her present when she receives a letter in her mailbox (no stamp) from the man, who is sitting on death row, who kidnapped and raped her when she was 15yo, holding her hostage for 39 days. Walter was prosecuted for the murders of the two girls who came before and after her. His letters turn into a need to talk to her on the phone, which she eventually agrees to and then he wants to talk to her in person. He will be executed in two weeks. Walter is believed to be the perpetrator in several unsolved rape/murder cases and missing persons cases. Eliza wonders if she can somehow be the one to finally get his full confession from him. But Walter, who once had her so cowered and controlled she never tried to escape from him, may have ulterior motives and purposes to wanting to get close to her again.
This story is a bit different than others I've read by Lippman. It really isn't a mystery in the sense that a crime is being solved but more a "tale of psychological manipulation" as Eliza finds herself going back over that time of her life that she had tidily shelved away. The story switches back and forth from the present as she deals with the unwanted but compelling attentions of Walter to the past as we see the whole kidnapping play out from the beginning until her eventual rescue. A compelling read that I highly enjoyed. Characterization and plot are both high factors in the telling of this story and I was glued to the pages. It's not exactly a fast-paced story but it is evenly paced, moving forward continually at a steady pace.
The book also deals with the issue of the death penalty and the author has done so, very well. As she states in her Author's Note "this is a novel, not a polemic", some other authors (coughKathy Reichscough) could do well to note how to not let their novels turn into a personal soapbox. Ms. Lippman's personal view on the topic is not necessarily evident, as she has strong characters on all sides: for, against and confused. The character with the strongest view is against, but she is portrayed as somewhat of a crackpot yet at times sympathetic. All the viewpoints can be seen from different angles even by the other characters. Well done. Another Lippman winner in my book.