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. 

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South's Greatest Moms Contest 2018

We're looking for the greatest, most authentic and sincere, southern moms. Taking nominations November 1st!

South's Greatest Photographers 2018

We're looking for the greatest, most creative photographers. If that is you, or you know of any, don't hesitate to nominate!
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Events Calendar

  • Designer's Showcase: Dressed for the Season

    Nov 12, 2018
    11:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Kaminski House Museum

    The Kaminski House Museum in historic Georgetown, South Carolina will be dressing the rooms of the Kaminski House Museum this holiday season with...

  • Tybee Marsh Treks

    Sep 01, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    On a marsh trek, you’ll enjoy a hands-on exploration of Georgia’s salt marsh, searching the mud for fiddler crabs, snails, and more. Learn...

  • Bonaventure Cemetery: After Hours Stories Eternal

    Nov 17, 2018
    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Bonaventure Cemetery

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  • Lights of the South

    Nov 16, 2018
    5:30 PM - 10:00 PM

  • License to Chill Snow Island

    Nov 16, 2018
    All Day @ Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

    Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is preparing for a winter wonderland makeover that will surprise and delight local residents and travelers...

  • Toddler Touch Tanks

    Dec 06, 2018
    All Day @ UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

    Explore the coast with your child in a unique setting perfect for inspiring wonder and curiosity! During select Thursdays in January and December,...

  • Skatefest

    Dec 07, 2018
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

  • Santa's Wonderland

    Nov 14, 2018
    All Day @ Bass Pro Shops

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  • 2018 National Gingerbread House Competition™ Display

    Nov 25, 2018
    All Day

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  • Girls' Night Out: "Meet Me in St. Louis"

    Dec 20, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Not many movies rate 100 % on the Rotten Tomatometer, but this 1944 classic MGM romantic musical comedy does. So that’s why we’re screening it...

  • Big Bon Pizza Pop Up

    Dec 21, 2018
    5:30 PM - 8:00 PM @ Henny Penny Cafe

    Join us as we host a Big Bon Pizza Pop Up. Grab a slice (or two, who's counting?!) and take a breather from all the holiday hustle bustle. Big...

  • Stardusted Circus Winter Solstice

    Dec 21, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    An Evening of Light, Magic, and Wonders to Behold!As you walk up to the enchanting Tybee Post Theater you will be greeted by a Festival of...

  • "Green Book"

    Dec 22, 2018
    3:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    There’s a lot of Oscar buzz around this new film about a working-class Italian-American bouncer, who becomes the driver of an African-American...

  • Holidays on the Big Screen

    Dec 22, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Ellis Square

    A family friendly event, bring everyone down along with chairs & blankets and watch a favorite holiday movie under the stars in Ellis Square. This...

  • Holidays on the Big Screen

    Dec 22, 2018
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Ellis Square at City Market

    Bring everyone to downtown Savannah along with chairs & blankets and watch a favorite holiday movie under the stars in Ellis Square. This is an...

  • Gregg Russell Christmas Concert

    Dec 23, 2018
    5:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Harbour Town

    Relish the spirit of the holidays with an evening in Harbour Town. Listen as Gregg Russell plays his guitar and sings songs of the season for...

  • Christmas Eve Lunch Cruise

    Dec 24, 2018
    12:00 PM - 2:30 PM @ Savannah Riverboat Cruises

    CHRISTMAS EVE LUNCH CRUISE Start your Christmas Eve celebration off with some delicious Southern fare this year on board with us! Delight yourself...

  • Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise

    Dec 24, 2018
    3:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Savannah Riverboat Cruises

    CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER ENTERTAINMENT CRUISE Join Savannah Riverboat Cruises this Christmas Eve, along with family and friends, for a...

  • Cocktail Classes in Cocktail Street Up

    Dec 24, 2018
    6:00 PM - 7:30 PM @ Congress Street Up

    Are you looking for something a little bit different, but still totally unique? Cocktail Classes in Congress Street Up are sure to wet your...

  • Islands Christian Church Christmas Eve Service

    Dec 24, 2018
    All Day @ Islands Christian Church

    Come join Islands Christian Church for a great Christmas Eve service!  Service times are 3, 4:30, and 6 P.M.


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Scenes of the South

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2018

Savannah's 39 Rue De Jean celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine.

A Chefs Collaborative

This five course dinner held at Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar allowed guests to taste exceptional flavors steeped in tradition. Included were the culinary skills of Chef Adam Barnett of The Katharine Brasserie & Bar, Winston-Salem, NC, Chef Robert Hoffman of Angeline’s Charlotte, NC, Chef Daniel Gorman of The Henley Nashville, TN, Chef Sebastien Rondier of Brabo, Alexandria, VA, and Chef Lauren Teague of PACCI Italian Kitchen + Bar.

East and West BBQ

A whole hog BBQ showcase, from two of the south’s most legendary Pitmasters, Pat Martin and Sam Jones. Hosted by Alida Hotel this event was a fabulous juxtaposition between Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Western Tennessee style. Made possible by the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Savannah Food & Wine Fest

Hundreds came to experience Southern charm and hospitality, Savannah Style. The South's best culinary happenings - one exceptional week in Savannah. Iconic and historic coastal venues provided the perfect backdrop for gourmet and fun. South magazine captured the experience at the VIP tent.

Big Wig Boat Bash

Savannah's Riverboat, The Georgia Queen set sail to host the final fundraiser for the 2018 class of Big Wigs, together raising over $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia Foundation. This evening included heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a silent auction, music and dancing and a contest to crown the Biggest BigWig! Contest categories included: The Biggest Wig, The Pink Ribbon Award and Best Pink Personality.

Boo Bash

This spooktacular evening included hors d’oeuvres, “spirits,” music and dancing, a Halloween costume contest with cash prizes, Halloween-themed entertainment, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and talent contest. Contest categories included: Dancing, Singing, Rapping, Stand-up Comedy and Lip Syncing.

Masquerade at the Mansion

Plenty of patrons donned masks and beads for an unforgettable Mardi Gras at the Mansion. There unique entertainment, food, and decor including magic fire, beignets, king cake and a photo booth, plus music and dancing, libations, late-night treats, and lots of surprises.

DineSouth After Party

This year's DineSouth ended in a blast. Dozens headed over to Barrellhouse, who hosted the after party. They enjoyed great drinks and live music by Individually Twisted.

DineSouth 2018

This year's DineSouth sponsored by Fulfillment.com was the greatest yet! South magazine has once again put on a night filled with fantastic food and entertainment. Guests enjoyed delicious food & drinks in the city while getting the opportunity to meet and mingle with the best chefs in the South. The entertainment was amazing with American Idol winner Candice Glover, unique band Velvet Caravan and the acoustic sounds of Annie Allman. The event supported the local Salvation Army.

Grand Opening of 201 Seafood

Mixing the traditional tastes of the south with the local flair of the city, 201 Seafood and Tapas Lounge showcases Savannah's culinary community and their grand opening now gives us full access to some of the best seafood in the Coastal Empire.