Monday, September 13, 2010

"I'd Know You Anywhere"

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, I'd Know You Anywhere, and reported the following:
Page 69 of I'd Know You Anywhere is definitely representative of the book, a conversation between its two main characters, Walter and Elizabeth. She's his captive, which becomes implicit at the end of the page, when she wonders how she might get away from him. But the meat of the page is their conversation about music. It is 1985 and Elizabeth is a Madonna fan, down to the lacy fingerless mitts on her hands. When Walter asks her what other music she likes, she says "Whitney Houston. Scritti Politti. Kate Bush."

As it happens, I used the names of popular songs from the 1980s for the various sections of the book. I didn't offer any explanation in the text, but I chose songs that were popular the summer of 1985, when Elizabeth was held captive for six weeks. For most of us, an '80s greatest hits station is an annoyance at worst, or maybe even a fun boppy time machine. For the grown-up Elizabeth (who now uses the name Eliza) those songs catapult her back into the worst time of her life. Walter tells her that Whitney Houston is a "bad girl" because "Saving All My Love for You" is a song about an affair. When Elizabeth asks why the man isn't to blame, given that he's the one who's married, Walter replies: "Women are better than men. Most, anyway." That seemingly chivalrous notion is at the heart of Walter's sociopathic nature. He places women on a pedestal -- and kills them when they fail to live up to the romantic notions in his head. Elizabeth is the only girl he won't kill. As an adult, she continues to wonder why this was and feels guilty for wondering. But part of the answer lies on page 69. From the first day on, Elizabeth is thinking about how to speak to Walter, how to gain control within a relationship where she has almost no control.
Browse inside I'd Know You Anywhere, and learn more about the book and author at Laura Lippman's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue