Echoes of Old Savannah


Published:

Bestselling author C.J. Daugherty’s new book draws inspiration from her time prowling the streets of Savannah.

Long before she released the echo killing, C.J. Daugherty had made a name for herself as a bestselling author in the highly competitive young adult market. Her “Night School” series held its own against the Twilights and the Hunger Games, launching her star in the publishing realm.

The Echo Killing is decidedly not a young adult novel. Unrelentingly dark and gripping, it takes readers inside the life of Savannah crime reporter Harper McClain, and a chilling series of murders that begin to take on more and more of a personal tone for McClain as she investigates. There is an authenticity to both McClain and the disturbing portrait of Savannah after dark that Daugherty paints through this novel, one borne from her years spent as a crime report for the Savannah Morning News.

With the mannerisms of her native Houston lightly gilded with a British accent thanks to nearly 20 years spent living overseas, Daugherty shared with us some of her experiences in Savannah and how they shaped her new novel.

The Echo Killing, from the dust jacket

Harper McClain has been obsessed with crime ever since her mother was killed when Harper was twelve years old. The killer was never found, and that unsolved murder haunts her as she spends her nights wandering the dark city streets of Savannah, Georgia, searching for criminals.

Now a crime reporter for the struggling local newspaper, Harper’s life remains tangled up in crime. Most of her friends are cops. She works nights, so she has no social life. Her work consumes her. One day, she stumbles upon the scene of a homicide that looks hauntingly familiar: a young girl with bloody hands being led away by a detective, a nude, female victim stabbed multiple times, and no evidence pointing towards a suspect.

Harper has seen all of this before in her own life. The similarities between the murder of Marie Whitney and her own mother’s death lead her to believe they’re both victims of the same killer.

At last, she has the chance to find the murderer who’s eluded the police for fifteen years. She can make sure another little girl isn’t haunted forever by a senseless act of violence.

Finally, she will have justice. But her investigation will put Harper herself in the killer’s crosshairs. She will have to risk everything she cares about – including her own life – to find the truth.

South Magazine Q & A

South magazine: First off, how did a crime reporter from Savannah wind up living in the U.K.?
C.J. Daugherty: I actually was working for a British company when I worked in New Orleans in the late ’90s. They offered me a job in London for two years. I thought, ‘Two years, that’s not so bad. I’ll take that. That will be kind of exciting.’ And that was nearly 20 years ago.

South: When the time came to branch off into crime novels, what made you choose Savannah?
Daugherty: I think because I was so young when I was working as a crime reporter there, it made a bigger impact on me than a lot of my journalism did. That stayed with me because I was 21 and covering some pretty serious crimes. 

South: What sort of crime were you seeing at the time?
Daugherty: There was a big crime outbreak at the time related to crack cocaine. I kind of arrived in a sleepy town and within six weeks it was a murder almost every other week and shootings every night. It was nuts. I went from working to my student newspaper to basically working homicide.

South: How much digging into old notes did you have to do as you were writing?
Daugherty: It was really funny because for a long time I hadn’t thought about those years at all. In fact, when I decided to write about it, I thought I’d look at old pictures and I couldn’t find the photo album because I’d moved so many times. I had to dig through my attic and when I finally found it, it all came back in this rush, having not thought about it in so long. 

South: And how much did you wind up drawing real-life inspiration for your story?
Daugherty: Remembering the crimes of the book are completely invented, what I tried to draw from was remembering the adrenaline of that. Harper’s hours are my hours, so I’d work from 4 p.m. until almost 1 a.m. five or six nights a week depending on how bad things were and I had a photographer I worked with quite closely who was addicted to his scanner. Those things that are in my book are universal. I think every crime reporter starts this way. The rest, the crimes and how her life unravels, that’s very different. 

South: And of course, Harper works at a fictionalized version of your old paper that is still headquartered downtown. (The actual Savannah Morning News moved more than a decade ago).
Daugherty: I feel like I came in at the end of the old newspaper days. When I started, every desk still had a typewriter on it that nobody used. It was just in the way – I used to put my feet up on it. There were still tubes on the walls where they used to send copy to the copy desk or the printer through these pneumatic tubes. They didn’t work, but you could see the bones of the old newspaper world still there. 
The romance of that, I wanted to work that into the book because I remember being very influenced by that as a young woman. It’s really a shame to me that that’s all moved out to the suburbs. I didn’t want to write about a writer who’s out in the suburbs. I wanted to write about that writer on Bay Street, right there with the river in front of her.

The Echo Killing is available wherever books are sold.

Subscribe now for instant access to the digital edition, or pick up the 2018 Power Issue from one of our distribution partners. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greatest Chefs 2019

Chefs are invisible artists. They keep us salivating, our minds fixated on the last time we ate at our favorite restaurant, and when the next time we plan on going. Nominate your favorite chef now!

Greatest Pets 2019

Man's Best Friend can be South's Greatest Pet with the right amount of love. Enter your pet and get those votes! Limited to southeast Georgia and the Lowcountry. Voting begins June 10 and ends July 1.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • FYZICAL® Savannah Celebrates Anniversary with Open House on June 26

    Jun 26, 2019
    5:00 AM - 6:30 PM @ FYZICAL Savannah

    FYZICAL® Savannah, a local center providing balance therapy and fall prevention treatment, will hold a community open house Wednesday, June 26,...

  • Camp Buddy Effingham

    Jun 24, 2019
    8:30 AM - 3:00 PM @ Blandford Elementary School

    Camp Buddy offers programs to prepare children for the upcoming school year with the goal of promoting information retention from the previous...

  • Summer Sea Camp

    May 27, 2019
    9:30 AM - 4:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    Kids 6 to 11 years old * Morning and/or Afternoon Modules * After Care * Curbside Drop-off/Pick-up   Summer FUN for the kids…designed to fit...

  • SS Savannah (1819-2019)

    May 23, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Ships of the Sea Museum

    2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.  In recognition of this monumental achievement,...

  • "The Prints of Dame Laura Knight" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Jan 19, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Museums' Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums exhibits nine prints by Dame Laura Knight (British, 1877-1970), together for the first time since they were acquired by the museum...

  • Ready. Set. Summer. at Bluemercury!

    May 13, 2019
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM @ Bluemercury

    Summer is quickly approaching – stop into your local neighborhood beauty store Bluemercury for all the essentials you need to refresh your...

  • Summer Reading Program

    Jun 01, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:15 PM @ Live Oak Public Libraries

    Reach for the stars with Summer Reading Program at Live Oak Public Libraries! Explore "A Universe of Stories" from June 1 through July 31...

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • "Mary Poppins Returns"

    Jun 25, 2019
    3:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    This critically acclaimed reimagining of the timeless classic, Mary Poppins, features Emily Blunt In the lead role. The new storyline, set in...

  • cSpot @ Ghost Coast Distillery

    Jun 26, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ Ghost Coast Distillery

    Come mix & mingle with locals over unique craft spirits and signature cocktails made in Savannah’s first distillery since just before...

  • French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950

    Jun 15, 2019
    All Day @ Consumer Museum of Art and Garden

    The biggest names in French art such as, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir will be showcased...

  • Coastal Heritage Society Summer Camps

    Jun 03, 2019
    All Day @ Tricentennial Park

    Each week-long camp: “STEAM Studio Camp,” “Jr. Chef Camp” and “Jr. Engineer Train Camp” will take place in June...

  • Pet Adoption Happy Hours

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Green Fire Pizza

    On Thursday, 6/27, between 5 & 7 PM, Green Fire Pizza will be hosting Coastal Pet Rescue's Pet Adoption Event.  A portion of all...

  • Yacht Hop 2019

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Savannah Yacht Club

    Join us for the 2019 Leukemia Cup Regatta Yacht Hop! Help us kick off the 2019 Leukemia Cup Regatta Series of Events! While you tour beautiful...

  • MAGNUM OPUS - 2019 ARTS ON THE COAST ANNUAL EXHIBIT

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Deep South Photopoint

    The Arts on the Coast (AOC) is proud to present its 2019 Annual Exhibit hosted by the Photopoint Gallery and Elmgren's Garden Center in...

  • Pelindaba Lavender Grand Opening

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Pelindaba Lavender

    Join us to celebrate all things lavender in Savannah - ribbon cutting, product sampling, lavender refreshments and special prizes! During this...

  • Let's Talk Community Discussion Series: Mental Illness and the LGBT+ Community

    Jun 27, 2019
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church

    The fifth event in The ELLA Foundation’s Let’s Talk Community Discussion Series will feature a panel of local experts and will be...

  • "Rocketman"

    Jun 27, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years and his transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar. Set to his...

  • Courtland & Co. Sample Sale

    Jun 28, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Courtland & Co

    Savannah's beloved gift shop, Courtland & Co, is making room for some exciting surprises in store and as such, are hosting their first ever...

  • Beatles Yoga with Maggie Cunningham

    Jun 28, 2019
    5:45 PM - 7:00 PM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    Here comes the sun salutations! In this heated, 75-minute workshop, we will flow through a power vinyasa sequence accompanied by the music of the...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

JCB MudRun 2019

Participants hit the ground running at this year's JCB Mud Fest, climbing through tough obstacles in either the 5k or the 5 mile run. At the end of the race was a long slide where, upon finishing, contestants found themselves in the Party Pit. Winners from various age groups were presented with trophies, and all the proceeds from the JCB Mud Fest benefited the Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development.

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum's 200th Anniversary!

This past Wednesday, May 22, we celebrated with Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum for for the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's historic trans-Atlantic crossing — the WORLD'S FIRST oceanic voyage under steam! On this year's Maritime Day, Ships of the Sea celebrated the Savannah's 200th anniversary with a commemorative ceremony provided by the PROPELLER CLUB, where Robert Morris unveiled two eight-foot paintings. The evening also included an amazing performance by the Parris Island MARINE BAND, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and celebratory beverages!

Brews For A Cause at Top Deck

This past Tuesday, May 21 we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause at Top Deck Bar! We joined up with Southern Eagle and a great group of like minded people to benefit Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire in their efforts to provide financial assistance to the surviving families of local law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty. It was another memorable night in the South filled with great people and even greater crafted beer! This month's Featured Craft Beer: Island Coastal Lager Sponsors: Island Coastal Lager, Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, Southern Eagle, South Magazine

Brews for a Cause at Churchill's

This Thursday, Churchill's was pack as we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause at Churchill's! We joined Southern Eagle and The Coastal Heritage Society. Southern Eagle provided great craft beer, Sista Rae Rae performed live, and the silent auction was a huge success. All the proceeds from the silent auction — including a diamond necklace from International Diamond — benefitted the Coastal Heritage Society.

Nine Line Foundation Dinner

On Friday, May 17, Nine Line hosted their Foundation Dinner that included special guests WWE Superstars Mark Calaway aka The Undertaker, Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust, John “Tig” Tiegen, hero of Benghazi portrayed in the movie “13 Hours,” Chad Prather, comedian and social media celebrity, and Graham Allen, social media celebrity. Guests mingled with the superstars and bid on auction items to raise money for the foundation. Matt Lyda put on a stellar performance as the MC of the event and kept the crowd entertained and bidding.

6th Annual Nine Line Run for the Wounded

The Nine Line Foundation and Nine Line Apparel celebrate Armed Forces Day for their 6th Annual 5K/10K Run for the Wounded in Savannah, Georgia. Proceeds from the race go directly towards their newest initiative: building a transitional community, a Veterans Village, for homeless veterans right here in Savannah, Georgia. With both 5K and 10K options available, this twilight run turned out to be another great success.

Nine Line Foundation Dinner

On Friday, May 17, Nine Line hosted their Foundation Dinner that included special guests WWE Superstars Mark Calaway Aka: the Undertaker, Dustin Rhodes aka: Goldust, John Tiegen "Tig" hero of Benghazi portrayed in the movie "13 Hours", Chad Prather, Comedian and Social Media Celebrity, and Graham Allen, Social Media Celebrity. Guests mingled with the superstars and bid on auction items to raise money for the foundation. Matt Lyda put on a stellar performance as the MC of the event and kept the crowd entertained and bidding.

SCAD40 Block Party

SCAD celebrated their 40th anniversary with a grand block party. Fellow alumni reconnected with university faculty and staff. ShopSCAD had live artist demonstrations, live music at the Gryphon, keepsakes and SCAD40 merchandise to purchase at the Art’s Café, SCAD food trucks with tasty treats and much more.

Kessler Collection’s Armstrong-Kessler Mansion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Local hotelier Richard Kessler and his company The Kessler Collection officially cut the ribbon on his newly restored home in Savannah, the Armstrong-Kessler Mansion. This iconic home celebrates its 100th birthday this year, and his been meticulously restored to its former grandeur as one of the foremost examples of Italian Renaissance architecture and design in America. Congratulations to Richard Kessler and The Kessler Collection!

The Clyde

The Clyde Venue is Savannah’s newest, most modern, wedding venue located in the Historic Landmark District. The space has been completely renovated, and a work in progress for more than a year. The venue is 5,200 square feet and includes a grande room, large marble bar, catering prep area, and restrooms. It’s located at 223 Martin Luther King Boulevard.