”After Anna” by Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin’s Press, 2018, 400 pages

Maggie and Noah are happy in their middle age. Maggie’s first marriage was a disaster. She suffered psychotic depression, and in the divorce lost her baby daughter. Noah’s wife died with cancer after a long illness, leaving him with a small boy.

But he found Maggie, and they had a stable relationship until now.

When Anna, Maggie’s 17-year-old daughter calls and wants to come live with her, Maggie is ecstatic. She ignores the signals that indicate Anna is more dangerous than a normal teen.

Anna turns out to be self-centered and manipulative. She plots to break up the marriage, determined to run Noah out of their home. She convinces Maggie that Noah is sexually abusing her. When Anna is murdered, Noah is accused and arrested.

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.

With a plot structure, each chapter is set up with a before and after hint. Just as I would get involved in Noah’s prison service, the plot would move back to Maggie.

She was a typical mom, so pleased to get her daughter back. Anna could do no wrong — even when it should’ve been obvious that she was set on having her way and doing her own thing. Red flags kept popping up, but Maggie was blind to the negative traits that Anna exhibits.

The courtroom scenes are well done with Linda, the prosecutor, being on target and possessing much skill in her determination to convict Noah. The defense lawyer in contrast to Linda is unbelievably weak, but he’s fighting against strong evidence.

New information drives Maggie to search for the truth. Readers will cheer as Maggie becomes the hero.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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