Years ago, while perusing the shelves at the local Waldenbooks, I came upon a crime/mystery novel by Lisa Scottoline, found I liked the description and bought it. I breezed through the novel and decided to buy another. I ended up reading quite a few novels by this author, but somehow got away from her books thanks to G-POP.net and the need to add more variety in my reading materials for the folks who have taken interest in my reviews. Recently, I was offered an opportunity to read a new novel from Lisa Scottoline called After Anna. Having enjoyed her other works, I jumped at the chance.
Before Anna, Dr. Noah Alderman and his wife Maggie Ippolitti were very happy. Before they were married, Noah, a pediatric allergist, lost his first wife to cancer and was struggling to raise his son alone and Maggie had her own issues. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Maggie began suffering the effects of post-partum psychosis. Though she got help for her illness, her husband divorced her and deemed her an unfit mother for Anna, moving her away and sending her to boarding schools.
When Noah and Maggie met, it was like a new beginning for both of them. They knew instantly that they were meant for each other and Noah’s son was immediately taken with his stepmother. Though now happy with Noah, Maggie always held out hope that she would one day renew her relationship with her daughter. And then, one day, she receives a call from Anna – she wants to meet Maggie, wants to understand why her father kept Maggie out of her life. It is only after the telephone call that Maggie learns her ex-husband and his entire family were killed in a plane crash.
As soon as the two meet, they hit it off right away and Maggie explains that much of what Anna’s father told her was a lie. Anna decides she has had it with the boarding school and wants to attend public school, living with Maggie and her new family. The two immediately start on this plan, with Anna packing her dorm room while Maggie speaks to both Anna’s Congreve School therapist and Anna’s financial advisor who lets her know that Anna will now be worth a small fortune, being her father’s soul heir.
After Anna, well, the lives of Dr. Noah Alderman and Maggie Ippolliti will never be the same. It begins with small things…little manipulative acts by Anna. But then, there are telling comments and looks Anna directs towards Noah. Then there are the allegations and a final disastrous moment that finds Noah on trial for murder wondering where he went wrong. After all, everything was fine before Anna, but after Anna…
First, I must say that this book is a departure from the earlier stuff I read from Lisa Scottoline. I was used to the legal crime thrillers from her earlier years. After Anna is still an engrossing crime thriller and there are still moments of legal battling here and there, but that’s where the similarities end. What took me the longest to get used to was how the story jockeys back and forth between the present, past and not so distant past. One minute you’re with Noah in the back of the courthouse awaiting the jury deliberations, wondering who he is accused of killing and whether or not he actually did the deed. The next you are traveling back in time with Maggie as she receives the first contact from Anna. Then you’re back in the courtroom for closing arguments, only to be transported back to the first time Maggie meets teenage Anna. Then it’s back again, this time with Noah arguing with his lawyer over whether or not he should testify and then it’s back again. That could get a little confusing, but as the back and forth continues, you begin to piece together just what happened after Anna came into their lives and I loved that little plot twist that took this story in a whole new direction.
One thing I wasn’t thrilled with – an incident that takes place with Noah after the jury verdict which I felt to be a little over the top. That being said, the rest of the book was so captivating, I can overlook this less than believable moment. I was totally engrossed in the lives of Noah and Maggie and I needed to know just what had happened that landed Noah on trial for murder…and that twist! I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to read a Lisa Scottoline novel after all these years of absence on my part – After Anna reminded me just how much I was missing.