Lisa Scottoline’s ‘After Anna’ Proves Not All Wishes Should Come True [REVIEW]


Her daughter was stolen from her twice, but who is guilty of her murder? Find out in Lisa Scottoline’s After Anna. (Photo by Gabriela Camerotti, Flickr)

When a woman’s estranged daughter reaches out to her after 16 years of silence, the mother is overjoyed. Little does she know, however, that by inviting the girl into her life, she’ll unleash unforeseeable devastation upon her new family which ultimately results in murder. But who is to blame? Find out in Lisa Scottoline’s new thriller, After Anna. 

Lisa Scottoline's AFTER ANNA

St. Martin’s Press

Maggie is a woman who deserves a bit of happiness. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter, she is diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, a mental illness that shatters her world. Not only does her marriage implode, but her ex-husband has her declared unfit and thereby wins sole custody of their infant daughter just before he whisks her away to France, far beyond Maggie’s reach.

Dr. Noah Alderman has his own share of sorrow. After losing his wife to ovarian cancer, he finds himself a widower and single father, raising his young son, Caleb, on his own while still juggling his practice as a prominent pediatric allergist. But when he meets Maggie, it seems like the tides change for all of them, and they build a happy life together, despite the void Maggie still feels over the loss of her little girl.

Years after she moves to France with her father, Anna reaches out to her mother. She is living in the States again, at a boarding school in Maine, and Maggie is understandably elated to hear from her and will do anything to reconnect with her child. Although Noah and Maggie both realize Anna’s presence will change their lives as they know it, little do they comprehend just how much. Anna is a beautiful but independent girl, and she isn’t ready to live by anyone’s rules. But Maggie, determined to make their relationship work, overlooks the havoc her daughter wreaks upon her once happy marriage and family life.

As if that weren’t enough distress in their home, soon the unthinkable happens. Anna is murdered and suddenly all of their lives unravel at breakneck speed. Noah is accused of the crime and put on trial, and now his own life hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, Maggie tries to cope with her devastating grief, which only grows with the thought that her beloved Noah could possibly be at fault. But then new information leads Maggie to look beyond her pain and search for the truth, and what she discovers may be the darkest secrets of all.

Although I’ve been a thriller reader for ages, this is the first time I’ve had the chance to sit down with a Lisa Scottoline novel. (Heather typically devours her books before I can even pick them up!) I can honestly say that I am delighted that Scottoline’s work lives up to my wife’s hype. After Anna is one of those books that rapidly draws readers in and makes us care about its protagonists from the very beginning. Noah and Maggie are very likeable characters, and our hearts break for them as their lives are not just pulled apart, but torn asunder. Scottoline delivers an intimate depiction of the drama they’re living, and it is as captivating as a roadside accident we rubberneck to see. As readers, we just can’t take our eyes off of it!

Juggling two storylines simultaneously (that of Noah in the present day working backwards, and that of Maggie pressing its way forward toward the present) is no small feat, although admittedly I wasn’t initially loving the bouncing back and forth between moments in time. But don’t give up, it doesn’t take long to get into the rhythm of the story as both lines work toward one another, and in the end it is clear why the author crafted the novel in this manner. It definitely heightens the suspense, and makes for a thoroughly satisfying novel I’m confident you’ll be recommending to all of your friends.

In the end, I can now count myself among Scottoline’s fans. She has a true knack for writing family drama, for ratcheting up the tension and building suspense that will have readers biting their nails and ripping through her book as she relentlessly picks at the threads of her characters’ lives until they beg for mercy. If you’re looking for a novel that is equal parts psychological thriller and courtroom drama, you’ll love After Anna. Just make sure to slather on the sunscreen and park yourself beneath a huge umbrella if you take this one to the beach. Otherwise, you’ll undoubtedly get so consumed you’ll forget the time and burn to a crisp as you tear through this fascinating novel. And we’d hate to hear you say we didn’t warn you. Enjoy!

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline
(Photo by April Narby)


Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling writer and Edgar award-winning author of 30 novels, including One Perfect LieExposed and Think Twice. There are more than 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, her work has been published in more than 35 countries, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film.

She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Enquirer titled “Chick Wit,” which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman’s perspective.

These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in a New York Times bestselling series of memoirs including their most recent, I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool

In addition to writing her own work, she reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Lisa has served as president of Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, “Justice and Fiction,” at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. She is also a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events.

She currently lives on a Pennsylvania farm with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Visit her home on the Web at Scottoline.comlike her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

By Lisa Scottoline
400 pgs. St. Martin’s Press. $27.99

Purchase After Anna at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Powells.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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