Reviewed by Kristin
When a mother is reunited with her long-lost child, you might expect a heartwarming story. Not this time.
Dr. Noah Alderman is on trial for killing his stepdaughter Anna Desroches. Rather than just telling the story in a linear fashion, the narrative flashes back and forth between the trial and the preceding events. In what seems at first a cut and dry case, bits of information are revealed piece by piece in this suspenseful novel.
Maggie Ippoliti lost custody of her daughter Anna seventeen years ago in a fog of postpartum complications. Anna was told all her life that her mother had abused her and been declared an unfit mother. After the sudden death of her father, Anna reaches out to Maggie. Living with her mother, Anna appears happy, but little hints of her manipulative ways begin to appear. Anna has a huge trust fund from her father, which gives her much more independence than the average teen. Family tensions rise as Anna struggles between the life she used to live, and her current life with her mother, stepfather, and stepbrother Caleb.
Of course, we already know that Anna is dead, but how and why the murder occurred is a long and complex tale. All the reviews say there is a big plot twist near the end, and indeed, there is. Since I knew that (as even the jacket copy hints,) I was looking for clues and had very strong suspicions about what the big surprise would be. Little clues and red herrings abound, taking the reader on a circuitous journey full of theories and second guesses.
I love Lisa Scottoline’s writing, but I wish that there had been more of the book after the plot twist. I would have liked to know more about the resolution of Maggie’s life and relationships. While I do like authors who tie up loose ends, perhaps this ending seemed tied up in too neat of a package. That minor complaint aside, I enjoyed this book very much. Emotional and breathtaking, After Anna is a roller coaster of a story, with complex characters that I have come to expect from Scottoline.