Lisa Scottoline, along with Alafair Burke is one of my go-to authors for legal thrillers. They’re a genre that once felt like they were everywhere (though that was perhaps in the days of John Grisham and Scott Turow – and the movies based on their novels). They seem to be less prevalent now, which makes me appreciate them more than I perhaps once did. (Although the book I read after this – Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks – was also a legal procedural!)
After Anna, Scottoline’s latest is less about the legal process in many ways, though part of the plot does unfold in a courtroom. It’s more a novel of suspense with the majority of the story being told through the memories of a man on trial for murdering his step-daughter.
by Lisa Scottoline
on April 10th 2018
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Legal Procedural
ISBN: 125009965X, 9781250099655
Noah Alderman, a doctor and a widower, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie, and for the first time in a long time he and his son are happy. But their lives are turned upside down when Maggie’s daughter Anna moves in with them.
Anna is a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble that is brewing. Events take a deadly turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime.
Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her only daughter, but the realization that her daughter's murder was at the hands of a husband she loves. New information sends Maggie searching for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.
Noah and Maggie are great characters and the people we meet ‘before Anna’ are happy and devoted parents to Noah’s son Caleb.
We’re fairly quickly brought up to date on Maggie’s relationship (or lack of) with Anna, which involved her former husband moving overseas after Maggie’s diagnosis of postpartum psychosis (when Anna was 6mths old). At the time Maggie realised she needed help and sought it, but she discovers her ex filled his daughter’s head with stories of her mother harming her, encouraging no contact between the pair.
Seventeen years later Maggie admits to stalking her daughter on social media as much as possible and even though Anna’s been shunted off (back) to boarding school in the US, Maggie’s respected Anna’s decision to have nothing to do with her.
Which is why she’s ecstatic to get a call out of the blue. Maggie’s unaware her ex-husband and his new wife have been killed, and she’s soon able to convince Anna that the stories her father told her about her were just lies.
Now, with a hefty trust fund awaiting her, Anna’s decision to leave boarding school and move in with her mother (and Noah) immediately is kinda strange, but Maggie doesn’t care and she, Noah and Caleb do their best to welcome her into their family.
It’s rather shocking then to discover that Noah is accused of killing Anna less than a month later… however the cracks start to appear pretty quickly.
Most of the story is told through Noah’s eyes. Kinda in reverse – on the stand and through his memories of events ‘after Anna’ moved in. Because we’re in his head we know he’s trying to protect Maggie and although he claims to be innocent of the murder, he feels guilty. About something.
Readers are privy to Anna’s seemingly duplicitous behaviour…. although we really only have Noah’s word on that.
The blurb implies Maggie doubts her husband’s guilt and wants to get to the bottom of the crime, however sadly Maggie seems to shut Noah out of her life. The fact he’d be capable of killing Anna goes against all of her instincts but there seems to be no other alternative. And…. after all, Anna made a number of allegations against Noah before her death.
It’s actually not until the end that Maggie has doubts and things change pretty quickly. For me the final twist was one too far. I liked the premise but the ‘why’ seemed a bit far-fetched and a little unrealistic.
It probably brought my rating of the book down a little, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.
After Anna by Lisa Scottoline was published by St Martin’s Press and is now available.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.