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Nobody cuts deeper than family…
Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she’d lost forever, her only daughter Anna.
Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be 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 brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.
Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna’s murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.
Riveting and disquieting, After Anna is a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. And New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline will keep readers on their toes until the final shocking page.
“A nail-biting domestic thriller filled with plenty of twists and complex characters.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Scottoline, a master at crafting intense family dramas, expertly twists Maggie’s reality with a page-turning mix of guilt, self-delusion, and manipulation.”
“A nail-biting thriller.”
By Lisa Scottoline
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, a bad sign.
Noah masked his emotions. He wasn’t a dramatic guy, and 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, marked by mundane things like 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 know his fate any minute, one way or the other. It had been hanging over his head during the trial and the seven months prior, in prison at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. He’d let it be known he was a doctor, and after that, he’d done what the inmates called “smooth time,” becoming a jailhouse doc, answering questions about asthma, back pain, and drug interactions, and 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 murder and its unlikely defendant had drawn media attention. None of the reporters or spectators uttered a word, having already been admonished against outbursts. 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 was a bulky, six-foot-five Nigerian with a personality and presence big enough to command attention in a courtroom. Thomas had put on a solid defense and been a friend as well as a lawyer. But Thomas couldn’t replace Noah’s best friend. His wife Maggie. Noah wondered if she was in the courtroom and turned around. The spectators reacted instantly, frowning and whispering among themselves. Noah checked where Maggie had sat before, but she wasn’t there. Still he loved her and always would, forever. He wished he could tell her that he was sorry, but she wouldn’t believe him anymore.
“Noah, face front,” Thomas whispered, leaning over, and Noah turned back.
“Will the defendant please rise?” Judge Gardner took off his reading glasses and set the verdict slip aside.
Thomas rose, and so did Noah. It felt unreal to him, and the courtroom receded in the background, telescoping away. He went inward. He didn’t know what he felt. He missed Maggie every minute. His family meant everything to him. He wished he could take it all back. He had done so many things wrong.
His life had been so normal, but it exploded like a strip of firecrackers at a backyard barbecue, blazing out of control, igniting the patio furniture and the house, engulfing everything in hot orange flames, raging like a giant fireball.
His world, afire.
It had all started with Anna.
QUESTIONS FOR BOOK CLUBS
- After Anna is told in alternating perspectives and several different timelines. What did you think of this unique structure and what did it add to your reading experience?
- Maggie was separated from Anna after suffering a severe bout of postpartum psychosis, an extreme form of postpartum depression. In the real world, as in After Anna, postpartum depression often goes untreated or is considered shameful. Why do you think there is so much stigma surrounding these illnesses? What can we do to help better support new mothers?
- Anna was used as a pawn by her father, and he wielded his power and money, and even lied to Anna to keep her away from Maggie. What do you think motivated him to do it? What do you think his motivation was for doing it? What was your initial reaction when Maggie learned the truth about Anna’s father? Were you instantly suspicious, or did you believe Anna’s explanation? How did that affect your opinion of Anna throughout the rest of the novel?
- Throughout the trial sections of the novel, damning evidence against Noah begins to build, from texts on his phone to official government documents. Were you convinced by the evidence? Why or why not? Did you think he was guilty – of murder or anything else?
- When Anna enters their home, Maggie and Noah have to renegotiate their parental boundaries and the household rules. How do you manage this in your own household? How does Anna having a large amount of money complicate this, and how do you think you would navigate a similar situation? Is there a right or wrong way to go about it?
- On page 81, Anna’s lawyer says, “Every girl needs a mother, doesn’t she?” Who do you turn to when you need mothering, whether your biological mother or someone else? Do you think we ever grow out of needing our mother?
- When did you begin to get suspicious of Anna’s erratic behavior? What struck you as particularly odd? How do you think your understanding of the novel would change if you read it again, knowing the outcome?
- What do you think about the ethics of Kathy and Maggie looking through Anna’s books for notes – are teenagers entitled to a certain level of privacy? Was it right, wrong, or more complicated than that? Why do you think this?
- Near the end of the novel, Maggie thinks that she must push through, “Because she was a mother, and she had a job to do.” Where can you see this theme of what mothers would do for their daughters throughout the book? What kind of power do you think there is in a mother/daughter bond?
- What did you think of the ending of the novel? Did you see it coming or were you completely blindsided? Did it change your understanding of the rest of the novel?