Desert Isle Keeper
The Echo Killing
The Echo Killing is the first novel in a new series featuring crime reporter Harper McClain. It takes place in Savannah, Georgia, but the city portrayed here isn’t the genteel, graceful place you’ve read about in so many historical novels. Instead, author Christi Daugherty shows readers a completely different side of this southern city. It’s dark, gritty, and dangerous, and that’s just the way our gutsy heroine prefers it.
Harper is one of the best crime reporters in the state of Georgia, and her success is no accident. Ever since she discovered the mutilated body of her mother on the kitchen floor of their home when she was twelve, Harper has felt a strong pull toward the criminal justice system. She could have chosen to be a police officer or a lawyer, but her tenacious personality and love of writing make crime reporting a perfect fit for her. She works the night shift, and much of her time is spent with the Savannah police force. Police officers and reporters don’t always get along, but many of the officers have known Harper since she was a child and one of their Lieutenants took her under his wing after the brutal murder of her mother.
One evening, Harper and her photographer are summoned to the scene of a grizzly killing, one that bears a striking resemblance to the still unsolved murder of her mother. As one might guess, Harper is immediately drawn to the case, viewing it as her last possible chance to bring her mother’s killer to justice. It’s been fifteen years since her mom died, but the memories of that day are seared into Harper’s memory, and she hopes working on this particular case might finally bring her some peace.
Unfortunately for Harper, the Savannah PD isn’t forthcoming with information about the current case. No matter whom she approaches and what questions she asks, Harper is stonewalled, a fact that makes her even more determined to uncover the truth. But the truth is known to be elusive, especially when powerful people have a stake in keeping it buried, and Harper is forced to put her job and her life on the line in order to bring the killer to justice.
Harper is exactly the kind of quick-witted and fearless heroine I love to read about. She doesn’t buckle under the pressure from her superiors to abandon her investigation; instead it spurs her to dig deeper into the case, something that doesn’t always go well for her. Her apartment is broken into and she comes close to losing her credibility as a trusted journalist, but she perseveres in spite of it all.
It’s important to realize that Harper is far from a perfect character. She definitely has her good points, but Ms. Daugherty does an excellent job giving her some flaws as well. I appreciated this, as I have trouble identifying with characters who do the exact right thing all the time. Harper’s dogged determination to learn the truth behind both murders causes her to cross a few lines, both personally and professionally, and while I cringed inwardly at some of her actions, I completely understood the reasons behind them.
It’s not uncommon for parts of a mystery novel to drag a bit, but that doesn’t happen here. Ms. Daugherty set the pace just right, and thus made it virtually impossible for me to put this book down. She relies on an almost perfect mix of action and character development to keep the reader engaged, and I was never bored, even when the plot wasn’t especially action-packed.
I was pleased to find that The Echo Killing does not end on a cliffhanger the way so many series books do. Ms. Daugherty gives us quite a bit of resolution while still leaving room for development in both the characters and the story, and I can’t wait for book two to be released. Harper is a complicated woman, and I’m eager to see what the author has planned for her.
Speaking of the ending, I absolutely loved the way the author builds up to the big reveal. The last quarter of the book is super intense, and, when the identity of the killer was finally revealed, I was totally surprised. I was almost positive I knew who it was going to be, but I was completely wrong. I love when an author can trick me like that.
If you’re looking for a smart, suspenseful start to a new series, you’ve got to give The Echo Killing a try. It contains everything I love in a good mystery, and it’s not overly violent, a fact that will appeal to those who are troubled by graphic descriptions of various types of carnage. Ms. Daugherty has earned a place on my list of authors to watch out for, and I sincerely hope she doesn’t make me wait too long for her next release.