Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Audiobook Review: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Pub. Date: April 10th, 2018

Length: 10 hours, 51 minutes

Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Family Drama


Nobody cuts deeper than family...

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.

What Did I Think About the Story?

After Anna is an interesting mystery, one that starts after the main situation - Anna's murder - has already occurred. Going back and forth in time, the reader is at first led to see what happened through the eyes of Anna's mother, as well as the trial and aftermath through Noah's point of view. The reader is then exposed to a twist that turns everything on its head, leading to a shocking discovery that I never saw coming.

Each chapter of the first two-thirds of the book alternates between Maggie "before" - when her estranged daughter reaches out to Maggie after her father's death - and Noah "after" - when he is charged with Anna's murder. I thought this was a great way to develop the story as it almost gives it the feeling of two separate stories converging into one. In Maggie's storyline we get to see how her ex-husband used her post partum psychosis against her, lying and keeping her daughter from her even after she had recovered. This leads Maggie, once she has Anna back in her life, to ignore red flags and put her daughter above everyone else, even her husband and her step-son. In Noah's story we see his trial unfold and have to determine if his statements of innocence are true, even when the evidence against him seems to be mounting and mounting. Then that twist I mentioned starts the final one-third of the story, changing everything and leaving me, at least, wondering how I didn't see it coming (and I really didn't!). It's quite a twist, one that keeps twisting until an ending that was satisfying, if a bit unrealistic.

The narrators of the story - we get two, one for Maggie's portions and one for Noah's - did a pretty good job of keeping the two storylines flowing towards each other and keeping me engaged. I have to admit that the narrator for Maggie, at times, somewhat grated on me, but I still can't decide if that is mainly due to her actual voice or the actions and dialogue written for her. Maggie, as a character, did some things that really got on my nerves and seemed pretty unrealistic. For example, at one point she's at a police station getting some unexpected information (this is a big understatement but I don't want to give anything away) and she demands to go along on what will surely be a very dangerous police matter....and the police let her tag along! This felt so far-fetched (along with some other actions) that I lost some appreciation for the story. The big twist that we discover seems somewhat unlikely by itself, adding Maggie's wild behavior to it doesn't help it feel at all like something relatable or something that would actually happen. Part of what I first enjoyed about the story was how these ordinary people had their lives completely destroyed by what happened to Anna, something that could, inevitably, happen in real life. Adding situations and reactions that I can't conceive of ever happening just took away from some of that enjoyment.   

After Anna is definitely a twisty tale. While I didn't love it I did enjoy being surprised by the big revelations. This might be a case of a story that would have been better read and not listened to, I've still not decided. I've read another book by Lisa Scottoline and remember really enjoying it, so I'll definitely give her another try in the future! I'd recommend this to anyone who likes twists and turns that don't necessarily need to be too realistic.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it's a pretty great cover for the story. The girl turned away and against a darkening backdrop gives it a sense of eeriness, and the fact that she's walking away from the lit-up houses makes her seem separate from that world (all of which fits). I love the slash down the middle as well, giving it texture and even more of a sinister feeling.

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

I borrowed a copy of the audiobook version of After Anna from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are mine alone. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads HERE. 

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