Laura Lippman’s latest standalone is a fascinating study of the psychological effects on both the hunter and the hunted. At age 15 Elizabeth Lerner was abducted by Walter Bowman. She was not the first, nor the last, young girl he took, but she was the only one he didn’t murder.
Years later, Elizabeth, married with two children of her own, receives a letter from Walter who is on death row awaiting execution. He claims he wants to see her to apologize for what he did. Her first reaction is to ignore him, but he is persistent and she gives in to him a little at a time. Initially it is frustrating and puzzling trying to fathom Eliza’s actions and the reader will wonder why she just doesn’t tell him off and get on with her life. But, like life itself, it just isn’t that simple.
Is Walter playing a cat and mouse game with Elizabeth? And if so, why? What hold did he have over her and does he still have it? Why did he let her live yet murder others? Was she a willing victim helping him lure other young girls into his truck? These and other questions keep the reader turning pages until the surprising, yet logical conclusion.
Readers used to the author’s more action-packed writing may find the pace of this more meditative departure a little slow at times, especially in the beginning. But don’t give up on it. The talented Lippman creates some very real, very compelling characters who will linger in the mind long after the book ends. Highly recommended to those who like an intellectual puzzle told with expert skill.