The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

The Blurb On The Back:

In a quiet and peaceful Savannah neighbourhood, the viciously stabbed and naked body of a woman in her thirties is found on her kitchen floor by her 12-year-old daughter.

As a top crime reporter, Harper McClain stares at the horrific scene and one thought screams through her mind.  This murder scene is identical to the one she discovered as a child.

Her mother’s.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

27-year-old Harper McClain works as a crime reporter for the local newspaper in Savannah, Georgia.  Dedicated and hardworking, she covers the night shift, listening to a police scanner with photographer, Miles Jackson, and thanks to her contacts at the local police department and her nose for a good story, she’s earned a reputation for excellent reporting.

When 32-year-old university fundraiser Marie Whitney is found stabbed to death in her home an affluent Savannah neighbourhood, Harper knows it’ll be page 1 news.  But when she and Miles get to the scene, she discovers that the story has far more personal connections: Marie’s naked body was found by her 12-year-old daughter Camille and the murder scene in the kitchen looked exactly like the one Harper faced when she came home one afternoon 15-years-earlier and found the naked body of her own mother, stabbed to death in their kitchen.

The murderer of Harper’s mother was never found but the similarities make Harper suspect that they have finally re-emerged and she finally sees a way to get justice for her mother.  Frustratingly though, the police disagree, forcing her to investigate alone only the more obsessed she becomes with the Whitney case, the more she begins to cut herself off from the people who can help her …

Bestselling YA author Christi Daugherty’s debut adult thriller is a solid affair that uses her own experience as a crime reporter, creates a convincing newsroom and sets up an interesting sequel but I thought that the main plot took too long to get going while a romance element seemed redundant and Harper’s bridge burning with friends and colleagues was a little contrived but none of this would stop me from reading on.

I believed in Harper as a reporter and enjoyed her relationships both with the older Miles and with the younger reporter, DJ Gonzales.  Daugherty does a good job of conveying the pressures and drivers in a newsroom and what the crime beat looks for, although I thought that Harper’s hard-as-nails, no-nonsense editor, Baxter, was straight out of stock newsroom casting.

I wasn’t quite as convinced by her relationship with the police officers, notably Lieutenant Robert Smith who investigated her mother’s murder and who she supposedly has a quasi-father/daughter relationship with (although there isn’t a huge amount of page time showing this, rather it’s something the reader is constantly told) mostly because there’s a weirdly stilted quality to their dialogue that didn’t quite ring true for me.  Detective Sergeant Blazer was, for me, two-dimensional as the token cop who dislikes Harper because he’s a jerk who needs to dislike her for the plot while Detective Luke Walker is a stock love interest – handsome and sensitive – but who weirdly doesn’t have much romantic tension with Harper on the page and I just didn’t care about their on-again/off-again relationship.

The plot itself is a little slow to get going with Daugherty spending the first 60 or so pages setting up Harper and the crime beat, which I felt was a little needless.  I also thought that the flashbacks Harper has to her own mother’s murder were heavy handed and the detective’s persistent refusal to believe in the connections again seemed contrived while Daugherty is slow to set out potential suspects and when they do come, they all lack depth.  However I did enjoy Harper’s slow unravelling of Whitney’s personal life and how she draws parallels between her and her mother to understand more of what happened to her and her family.

Ultimately, this was an okay read and Daugherty ends it with an intriguing scenario that sets up a sequel, which I would definitely want to check out.

THE ECHO KILLINGS was released in the United Kingdom on 8th March 2018.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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