From the New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline comes After Anna, a fast-paced, thrilling new novel full of suspense and emotional justice.
Noah Alderman, widower and single father, 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 moves in with them. Anna is a drop-dead gorgeous sixteen-year-old with a secret dark side. Unbeknownst to everyone, Anna is not simply a selfish beauty, but a dangerously disturbed sociopath. Anna sets out to systematically destroy the new life Noah has built, and when she turns up dead, Noah is at the top of the suspect list. Noah begins his own investigation in order to clear his name and save his family, and what he discovers is darker than he could have ever imagined.
Praise for Lisa Scottoline:
"Scottoline keeps the pace relentless as she drops a looming threat into the heart of an idyllic suburban community, causing readers to hold their breath in anticipation." Booklist on One Perfect Lie
"Readers can be assured that the author nails the high school milieu, from athletic rivalries to sexting...they're in for one thrilling ride." Kirkus on One Perfect Lie
"Entertaining...This fast-paced read culminates in a daring chase that would play well on the big screen." Publishers Weekly
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 9.45(h) x 1.29(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:July 1, 1955
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1981
Read an Excerpt
TRIAL, DAY 10
Dr. Noah Alderman watched the jurors as they filed into the courtroom with their verdict, which would either set him free or convict him of first-degree murder. None of them met his eye, which was a bad sign.
Noah masked his emotions. It almost didn't matter what the jury did to him. He'd already lost everything he loved. His wife, Maggie, and son, Caleb. His partnership in a thriving medical practice. His house. His contented life as a suburban dad, running errands on Saturday mornings with Caleb. They'd make the rounds to the box stores and garden center for whatever Maggie needed. Potting soil, deer repellent, mulch. Noah never bought enough mulch and always had to go back. He actually missed mulch.
The jurors seated themselves while the foreman handed the verdict slip to the courtroom deputy. Noah would finally know his fate, one way or the other. It had been hanging over his head every minute of the trial and the almost seven months prior, in jail at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. He'd done what the inmates called "smooth time," becoming a jailhouse doc, examining swollen gums, arthritic wrists, and stubborn MRSA infections. He'd kept his head down and hidden his emotions. Pretty soon he was hiding them from himself, like now.
Judge Gardner accepted the verdict slip, causing a rustling in a gallery packed with spectators and reporters since the horrific crime and its unlikely defendant had drawn media attention. Judge Gardner put on his glasses and read the verdict slip silently. His lined face betrayed no reaction.
Noah felt his lawyer, Thomas Owusu, shifting next to him. Thomas had put on a solid defense and been a friend as well as a lawyer. But Noah's best friend was his wife, Maggie. Or at least, she had been. Before.
Noah turned around to see if she'd come to hear the verdict. The spectators reacted instantly, recoiling. They hated him. He knew why.
He scanned the pews, looking for Maggie. He didn't see her, so he turned back. He didn't blame her for not coming, of course. He wished he could tell her that he was sorry, but she wouldn't believe him. Not anymore.
"Will the defendant please rise?" Judge Gardner took off his reading glasses and set the verdict slip aside.
Noah rose, on weak knees. The courtroom fell dead silent. He could almost hear his heart thunder. He was about to know. Guilty or innocent. Prison or freedom. If they convicted him, he could be sentenced to death.
Noah wished he could run time backwards, undo every decision until this moment. He'd made so many mistakes. His life had exploded like a strip of firecrackers at a barbecue, igniting the patio furniture and spreading to the house until everything was blazing out of control, engulfed in a massive fireball.
His entire world, destroyed.
It had all started with Anna.CHAPTER 2
"Anna, is it really you?" Maggie felt like shouting for joy. She couldn't believe it was really happening. She'd prayed she'd hear from Anna someday. It was her last thought every night, though she kept it to herself, a secret heartache.
"Yes, it's me. Uh, hi —"
"Oh my God, I'm so happy you called!" Maggie felt tears spring to her eyes. She grabbed a napkin from the drawer and wiped them, but the floodgates were open. It was a dream come true. She couldn't wait to tell Noah. He was in the backyard with Caleb, planting rosebushes.
"I hoped you'd be happy I called."
"Of course, of course I would be! Wow, it's so great!" Maggie's throat thickened, and her nose started to bubble, which she hated. She was Queen of the Snotty Cry, which was even uglier than the Ugly Cry.
"I know it's kinda random, to call out of the blue."
"It's not, it's wonderful, it's amazing! You're my daughter! You can call me anytime!" Maggie held the napkin to her eyes. She hadn't seen Anna since she was an infant, only six months old. That was seventeen years ago, the darkest time in Maggie's life, when she'd entered the hospital. It started coming back to her, a dark counterpoint to her elation.
I can't sleep even though I'm exhausted.
"Uh, Mom, I wasn't even sure what to call you. Is Mom okay?"
"Yes, Mom is okay! Mom is more than okay." Maggie wanted to jump up and down, but held it together. She had just been called Mom. She never dreamed she'd hear Anna call her Mom. She'd never been called Mom before, by anyone. Caleb called her Mag.
"Good, great. I hope it's okay I called on a holiday."
"It's fine!" Maggie dabbed at her nose, trying not to make weird noises into the phone. "So, Happy Easter!"
"To you, too."
"What did you do for the holiday? Are you at your dad's?" Maggie kept her tone light, even though she hated her ex, Florian. She knew he was behind Anna's decision never to see Maggie, estranging mother and daughter permanently.
"No, I'm at school."
"Oh." Maggie felt a pang for her, spending the holiday without family. "Did they do anything special?"
"No, mostly everyone's still away for Spring Break."
"I see." Maggie tried to collect her thoughts, sitting down at the kitchen island. Sunlight glistened on the granite countertop, which was white flecked with black and gray. Caleb's Easter basket of Cadbury eggs and jellybeans sat next to the Sunday paper, and the air still smelled like banana pancakes from breakfast.
I'm losing weight but I'm not dieting.
"So Anna, tell me, how are you? How have you been? Can we catch up on your whole entire life?"
"I don't know." Anna chuckled. "If you want to."
"I do, I'd love to!" Maggie's heart lifted. "We can try, can't we?"
"Of course we can! So tell me how you are!" Maggie would give anything to reconnect with Anna. Maggie had fought for shared physical custody, but Florian had enrolled Anna in a fancy French boarding school, and the French courts had ruled against Maggie. She'd tried to establish visitation, but then Anna herself had written Maggie, saying she didn't want to see her. Maggie had honored the request, though it had broken her heart.
"I guess I'm fine. My life is ... fine." Anna giggled.
"Mine, too! What a coincidence!" Maggie joined her, laughing. "How's the new school?"
"Not as fine. And it's not new."
"You started there for high school, right?" Maggie had gotten a notice from Florian two years ago, which was required by the court, telling her that Anna had come stateside to Congreve, an elite boarding school in Maine. It drove her nuts that Florian had won custody of Anna, only to send her to a school to live. Maggie sensed he didn't visit Anna much, because what little Maggie could see of Anna's social media never mentioned Florian, not even on Father's Day. Maggie always checked Mother's Day, too, torturing herself.
"Yes, but that was, like, three years ago. I wanted to come to the U.S. for high school."
"So what's Congreve like? I saw on the website, it's so pretty!"
"There's not much to tell. It's school." Anna fell momentarily silent, and Maggie rushed to keep the conversational ball rolling.
"So you're only a year from graduation! Tell me, what's next for you? College?"
"Totally, they're obsessed here. Congreve is a feeder for the Ivies. My grades are pretty good. I have a 3.7."
"Wow, I'm so happy for you!" Maggie felt new tears come to her eyes, a mixture of joy and guilt. Anna deserved the brightest future ever.
I hear sounds and voices.
"It's good, but it's not, like, valedictorian good."
"But still! I'm proud of you!"
I feel guilty and ashamed of myself.
"Thanks." Anna perked up. "I like your letters. It's so old-fashioned to get a real letter, instead of email."
"I'm so happy you read them!" Maggie wrote Anna once a month, figuring that one-way communication was better than none at all. She had no choice other than snail mail, since she didn't have Anna's email address or cell phone number.
"I'm sorry I didn't write back. I should have."
Maggie felt touched. "It's okay, you didn't have to."
"No, totally. It's rude."
"It's not rude, honey!" Maggie heard the honey escape her lips, naturally. "No worries!"
"And thanks for the birthday cards, too."
"I'm happy to. I celebrate your birthday, in my head. It's crazy!" Maggie cringed, hearing herself. Crazy.
I can't tell my husband how I feel.
"I save the cards."
"Aww, that's so nice. That's really sweet." Maggie swallowed hard, thinking of Anna's birthday, March 6. The labor and delivery had been difficult, an unexpected Cesarean, but Maggie didn't dwell on that or what came after. All her life, what she'd wanted most was a baby girl.
"And you know that navy fleece you sent me, last Christmas?"
"Sure, yes! Did you like it? Did it fit?" Maggie always sent up Christmas and birthday gifts. She'd had to guess at the correct size, so she bought medium. Anna's social media had moody shots of Congreve, but the privacy settings were high and the school's website said it frowned upon selfies and the like.
"Yes, I wear that fleece all the time. My Housemaster thinks it walks by itself."
"I figured, Maine, right? It's cold." Maggie wondered who Anna's Housemaster was and what her dorm was like, her classes, her friends. It felt so awful being shut out of her daughter's life. It was like having a limb amputated, but one nobody knew about. Maggie looked complete on the outside, but inside, she knew different.
I never thought I would feel this way.
"Also, congratulations on getting remarried."
"Thank you." Maggie assumed Anna knew from her letters. She didn't know if Anna felt uncomfortable about Maggie's remarrying, but it didn't sound that way. "Noah is a great guy, a pediatric allergist. I work part-time in his office, I do the billing, and I have a stepson, Caleb, who's ten."
"It sounds great."
"It is," Maggie said, meaning it. She was so happy with Noah, who was loving, brilliant, and reliable. He'd been a single father since the death of his first wife four years ago, from ovarian cancer. Maggie had met him at the gym, and they'd fallen in love and married two years ago. And Maggie adored Caleb, a bright ten-year-old who was on the shy side, owing to a speech disorder, called apraxia.
"Caleb's supercute and — uh-oh. I just busted myself." Anna groaned. "I stalk you on Facebook."
"Ha! I stalk you, too!" Maggie laughed, delighted. She had thought about sending Anna a Friend Request so many times, but she didn't know what Anna had told her friends about her mother.
My baby would be better off without me.
Anna cleared her throat. "Anyway, I should get to the point. I was wondering if you wanted to, like, maybe, see each other? I mean, for dinner or something? Either here or in Pennsylvania?"
"I would love that!" Maggie dabbed her eyes. It was more than she could have hoped for. "I'll come see you, to make it easier! Anytime, anywhere, you name it!"
"Um, okay, how about Friday dinner?"
"This week?" Maggie jumped to her feet, excited. "Yes, totally! I'm so excited!" "Cool!" Anna sounded pleased. "I didn't know if you would want to. Dad said you wouldn't."
"Of course I would!" Maggie resisted the urge to trash Florian. She was trying to be better, not bitter, like her old therapist had said. It wouldn't get her anywhere anyway, so late in the game. Florian had cheated her of her own child, exploiting her illness to his advantage.
I have thoughts of harming myself.
"I'm glad I asked, you know? And I kind of want to know, like, what happened. With you."
"Of course." Maggie flushed. Her shame was always there, beneath the surface of her skin, like its very own layer of flesh. "Anna, I'll tell you anything you want to know. You must have lots of questions and you deserve answers from me."
"Okay. There's a place in town that's vegetarian, is that all right?"
"Vegetarian's great!" Maggie felt her spirits soar. "Anna, I give you so much credit for making this call. It couldn't have been easy. You're very brave."
"Aw, thanks. I'll text you the address of the restaurant. Okay, bye, Mom."
Mom. Maggie's heart melted again. "Bye, honey."
I have thoughts of harming my baby.
Maggie ended the call, jumped to her feet, and cheered. "Noah!" she yelled, running for the back door.CHAPTER 3
TRIAL, DAY 9
Noah waited alone in the bull pen, a secured detention area of room-like cells on the bottom floor of the courthouse. The jury had been deliberating for two days, and it was eating him alive. Thomas had assumed the deliberations would take a day at most and hung with him from time to time, which Noah appreciated, not knowing how much longer he'd be in civilized company. Maybe not for the rest of his life. If he got convicted, he wasn't going back to the smooth time at Montgomery County Correctional Facility. He'd be doing hard time in a maximum-security facility like Graterford. Assuming he didn't get the death penalty.
Noah tried not to think about that now. He had to be hopeful. He didn't know which way the jury would go. They could find him innocent. It happened. People walked every day. He couldn't control what the jury did, so he was trying to get to a place of acceptance, a favorite phrase from the overworked MSW at the jail, who did med checks and ran group therapy sessions. Noah had been given a coping toolkit to help him come to a place of acceptance. Problem was, the tools weren't working now.
Suddenly the door opened, and a deputy admitted Thomas, filling the small room with his massive frame. He was six-foot-five and built like the linebacker he used to be at Cheney, and his presence and personality commanded attention in any courtroom. Right now his big features — round eyes, large nose, and oversized grin — were alive with animation, and he clapped his meaty hands together. "Great news, dude!"
"What?" Noah shifted on the metal bench, bolted to the wall.
"Lovely Linda is very nervous. Ask me why. Answer? Because I crushed that closing." Thomas grinned broadly, his chest expanding, and he opened his arms to reveal a wingspan that strained the seams of his tailored charcoal suit.
"What's up?" Noah felt a tingle of hope. Lovely Linda was what Thomas called the Assistant District Attorney, Linda Swain-Pettit. Thomas had nicknames for everybody in the courtroom, including the jurors.
"She's worried the jury's been out this long. She wants to make a deal."
"No deal. I said already." Noah didn't know what he'd expected. The cavalry?
"No, this time, you'll listen. I got her to sweeten the pot." Thomas sat down next to him. His grin vanished, and he turned to Noah, his eyes narrowing with intensity, like a microscope focusing.
"Wait." Thomas held up his palm. "You're charged with murder of the first degree. You're looking at life without, or death. That's possible."
"I know that." Noah had gotten used to the lingo. Life without meant life without possibility of parole, or LWOP.
"But if you plead guilty to third-degree murder, she's offering twenty years."
Thomas's eyes flared in disbelief. "Noah. I got her down from forty years, the max."
"No." Noah didn't even have to think about it. He knew how he felt.
"Noah, you're not listening. Sure, I gave a great closing, but don't lose your damn mind. The fact that they're still out doesn't mean they're going your way. Maybe somebody doesn't want to go back to work. It's snowing, maybe somebody doesn't want to go home and shovel. You don't know. You can't risk it. Take the deal."
"She destroyed you on the stand. It was like watching a major-league hitter swing at your head. I couldn't believe you even stood up after that. I wanted to send you a stretcher."
"Still, no." Noah had underestimated how hard it would be to be cross-examined by an experienced prosecutor. He'd thought he could just tell his story.
"It's like you have a death wish. Do you have a death wish, Noah?"
"No," Noah answered, but the truth was yes, or at least, maybe.
"Noah." Thomas took a deep breath, inflating his barrel chest, trying to calm himself down. "I'm begging you to take this deal."
"Why not? Because of the plea? Who cares? Like I told you, whether you're guilty or innocent doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is whether Linda convinced the jury you did it, and I assure you, she did that."
"Still." Noah had heard Thomas's lecture before. "Thomas, on a firing squad, they always put blanks in one of the guns. And you know the reason? So that everybody on the firing squad can sleep at night, saying to themselves, 'There's a chance I didn't do it.'" "So what's your point?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "After Anna"
Copyright © 2018 Smart Blonde.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
WOW OH WOW!!! After Anna is completely AMAZING!! This is a MUST READ!! You will be hooked from the first page. This is about a family that is completely torn apart because of “lies” within the family. The mother gets a call from her estranged daughter, who she hasn’t seen since she was 6 months old. She (Anna) is now 17. She brings Anna home and life as they know it falls apart. The story is told through the trial of Noah....and Maggie’s view. Very very very good read with a twist ending!!!! You will not regret the time you spend reading this book. :)
We have come to expect good books from this very talented author. Lucky for us she never lets us down! I have read everything LS has written and think this is the best one yet!! Highly recommend. Looking forward to more!
This is a fast-paced drama full of twists and turns that will keep you awake at night. Thanks to Lisa for another great novel.
Well written with some unexpected twists. Plan to stay up all night...
After anna is a riveting pageturner. I couldnt put it down. I liked the way the author does this contrast between past and present time as the story is unfolding. I was trying to solve the mystery myself as i was getting pulled into the plot. However i was MIND BLOWN! The twist is very interesting. I look forward to reading her next book.
I was hooked at page one! You won't be disappointed.
Ended up skimming the whole thing just to see where it was going. Characters were unbelievable. Ended was ridiculous. Don't waste your money!
The beginning was interesting and engaging. The middle was hard to buy into with a really unrealistic resolution. The ending just plain dumb. I was dissappointed.
Fast moving. Suspenseful. Good twists.
The first part is slow and none of the people were likeable. At the end everything was wrapped up in a nice package and they lived happily ever after. Just not believeable.
You think you can tell what is going to be next but you're wrong, spend a evening on a great book
I wanted to love this book as much as I've loved most of Lisa Scottoline's books. But this book is awful - you can't like the characters, the story makes no sense and there is no logical tie in to any part of the shifts in story line. Please for the love of all things literary, don't waste your time on this novel. I honestly think she wrote this book in a weekend hoping none of us would notice.
Possibly the worst ending I’ve ever read in a book
Loved the whole thing!
After Anna by Lisa Scottoline April 2018 I received a digital copy of this ARC for review from NetGalley. A suspenseful novel in true Scottoline style, providing twists and unexpected turns in plot. This story is narrated with alternating chapters from Maggie’s perspective “before” Anna and Noah’s perspective “after” Anna during his murder trial. Maggie has almost everything she wanted with a new husband, Dr. Noah Alderman, a pediatric allergist and his 10 year old son, Caleb. Although she feels fortunate to have such a loving and caring new family, she can’t help but ruminate on her past transgressions. She has many regrets for the postpartum psychosis she experienced after giving birth to Anna. Her marriage to Florian soon failed resulting in an acrimonious custody battle. Since Maggie last saw her daughter at 6 months old, she continued desperately to develop a relationship with Anna. Her affluent ex-husband had remarried and moved to France sending Anna off to fancy boarding schools. One Easter Sunday, Anna receives an unexpected call from her daughter, Anna. Apparently, Anna has been stateside at a private high school Congreve in Maine. Her daughter, now 17 years old, wants to reconnect and meet her mother. Everyone is thrilled when Anna comes to live with them after her father is killed in a plane crash. What begins as a wonderful reunion soon begins to disintegrate the once happy family when lies and deceit gradually emerge. There’s no way to prepare for the twists and turns this story will take as Noah stands trial for murder. Truths and lies become entangled making it difficult to decent who to believe.
Could not put this book down...hated for it to end!
One of the worst books I have ever read. I have read all of her books and looked forward to this new one. Its pace is agonizingly slow and I had to force myself to finish it. Definately not worth the money or time.
After Anna is a story told in the past as well as in the present, featuring Noah who is on trial for murder, and Maggie, his wife, who is recently confronted with having her estranged daughter back in her life. The way the story unfolds is done in a creative way, piecing the puzzle together each step of the way to paint a picture of postpartum psychosis and the guilt of not having been able to be there for Anna as the mother Maggie felt she should have been. As the story unfolds, the reader learns of a series of girls who have gone missing, all with ties to Anna. This is a page turning thriller of a read. As it's not my most favorite story told by Ms. Scottoline, I do enjoy the creative story progression as it was very effective in the telling and the unfolding of the bigger picture. The ending was a little abrupt to me as I felt like maybe there could've been a bit of foreshadowing created early on, but maybe that's just become something I've been used to and it doesn't effect the final ending. If you enjoy Ms. Scottoline's previous novels, you are sure to enjoy this one as well.
Excellent. I read it in two days..page turner. Keep um coming LIsa..
One of her best!
The star rating is not working but this is a 5 star book. Read it in one day. The ending certainly surprised me. Definitely read the book or buy it for someone who enjoys mysteries and thrillers.