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. 

Download the digital issue now!

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • A Savannah Scavenger Hunt: Historic Savannah Adventure

    Feb 19, 2020
    8:00 AM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah

    Explore beautiful Savannah. Steeped in Civil War history, you will be sure to find some new-to-you spots. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a...

  • #iSPYtogether Summer Challenge

    Jun 01, 2020
    12:00 AM - 11:45 PM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    We’re in this together! We’re experiencing a shift in the world together, and together we can keep each other healthy and connected in the...

  • Prohibition Cocktail Classes

    Jun 22, 2020
    6:00 PM @ American Prohibition Museum

    Monday & Tuesday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Prohibition Cocktail Classes at Congress Street Up inside the American Prohibition Museum....

  • Free Fort Pulaski Days

    Jan 20, 2020
    All Day @ Fort Pulaski National Monhument

    Fort Pulaski National Monument will have six entrance fee-free days in 2020. The dates for 2020 are: ● Monday, January 20 – Martin...

  • Georgia Mountain Fair

    Aug 14, 2020
    10:00 AM - 10:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

    Look forward to the 70th annual Georgia Mountain Fair, held at the historic Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds this summer! Thousands of visitors from...

  • On the Spot Murder Mystery Show

    Jun 26, 2020
    6:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Savannah Coffee Roasters

    On The Spot Murder Mystery Dinner Show hosted by The Odd Lot Improv Team at Savannah Coffee Roasters, 6:30 p.m. An entirely improvised...

  • Tedeschi Trucks Band Signs 2020 Tour

    Aug 14, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

    The Tedeschi Trucks Band Signs 2020 Tour will be making at stop at the Johnny Mercer Theatre on Friday, August 14th at 7:30pm. Tedeschi Trucks...

  • The Price is Right - Live on Stage

    Aug 15, 2020
    All Day @ Johnny Mercer Theatre

    “The Price Is Right Live™ is returning to Savannah by popular demand! “The Price Is Right Live™ is the hit interactive...

  • 50th Anniversary Tour w/ Special Guest Don McLean

    Aug 25, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

    It’s been 50 years since Randy, Jeff and Teddy, left the cotton farms of Fort Payne, Alabama, to spend the summer playing music in a Myrtle...

  • Rodney Carrington Live Concert

    Aug 27, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

    The Savannah Civic Center is excited to Rodney Carrington will be coming to the Johnny Mercer Theatre on Thursday, August 27th at 7 p.m. Rodney...

  • First Fridays in Starland

    Jun 26, 2020
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Starland District

     Monthly arts event in Savannah’s Starland District, with street fair, art market or gallery shows. Starland doesn’t like to...

  • 2020 SMF Fall Concert — St. Paul & the Broken Bones

    Sep 03, 2020
    8:30 PM - 10:30 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Part of a new fall concert series of rescheduled 2020 Savannah Music Festival performances, St. Paul & the Broken Bones will perform...

  • Gene Watson, Janie Fricke and Marty Haggard Concert

    Sep 05, 2020
    7:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

     Enjoy an evening of real country music with Gene Watson, Janie Fricke & Marty Haggard. Plus a special tribute to legendary Merle Haggard!...

  • Shinedown Concert

    Sep 06, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

    Multi-platinum rock band Shinedown has announced their Shinedown: Deep Dive tour, an intimate run of Spring 2020 dates that will see the band...

  • 2020 SMF Fall Concert — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

    Sep 11, 2020
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Johnny Mercer Theatre

    Part of a new fall concert series of rescheduled 2020 Savannah Music Festival (SMF) performances, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will...

  • Happy Together Tour

    Sep 12, 2020
    7:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

    Enjoy an evening of hit after hit…after HIT!  The Happy Together Tour features: - THE TURTLES - CHUCK NEGRON (formerly of Three Dog Night) -...

  • Revolutionary Perspectives Lecture Series

    Sep 15, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah History Museum

      The annual Revolutionary Perspectives Lecture Series focuses on a wide variety of topics unique to the American Revolution era. Each...

  • Dailey & Vincent's LandFest 2020

    Sep 17, 2020
    3:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

    Dailey & Vincent’s LandFest In The Mountains & On The Lake 2020 marks the festival's 7th anniversary of bringing the best American music to fans!...

  • 39th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival

    Sep 20, 2020
    All Day

    The 39th annual Savannah Jazz Festival is an event featuring 27 performances. The festival celebrates regional, national and international...

  • Mile Long Yard Sale

    Sep 25, 2020
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

    One man's trash is another man's treasure. Come shop 1 mile worth of treasures at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds! Free entry to shoppers! ...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Plant Riverside District Grand Opening

After $400 million and the better part of the past decade, the Plant Riverside District has finally opened for business. This 419-room JW Marriot marks the creation of a all-new entertainment district on River Street's west end. Speeches were made, hands were shaken (or rather, elbows were tapped), and the ribbon was finally cut, unveiling this monumental project for the public to enjoy.

Faces of the South 2020 Gala of the Decade at Plant Riverside District

On July 24, 2020 Richard Kessler unveiled his greatest accomplishment to date, the Plant Riverside District, to a guest list that read like a who’s who of Savannah’s movers and shakers. Adding to the excitement was the concurrent release party for South magazine’s Faces of the South: The Trilogy Edition. With safety and social distancing measures in place, guests enjoyed the sweet sounds of the Equinox Orchestra, dined on a sampler platter of Savannah’s finest food and drink and marveled at the excitement of watching Savannah’s hottest new entertainment district come to life.

Faces of the South Gala of the Decade at Plant Riverside District part II

On July 24, 2020 Richard Kessler unveiled his greatest accomplishment to date, the Plant Riverside District, to a guest list that read like a who’s who of Savannah’s movers and shakers. Adding to the excitement was the concurrent release party for South magazine’s Faces of the South: The Trilogy Edition. With safety and social distancing measures in place, guests enjoyed the sweet sounds of the Equinox Orchestra, dined on a sampler platter of Savannah’s finest food and drink and marveled at the excitement of watching Savannah’s hottest new entertainment district come to life.

Danny Merritt 2020 Election Watch Party

Danny Merritt held his election watch party at Coach's Corner in Savannah, Georgia on Tuesday, June 9th. Merritt ran for Congress for District 1 against incumbent Buddy Carter.

FACES OF THE SOUTH — THE TRILOGY GALLERY 5

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH — THE TRILOGY GALLERY 4

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH — THE TRILOGY GALLERY 2

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH — THE TRILOGY GALLERY 3

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

FACES OF THE SOUTH — THE TRILOGY GALLERY 1

This is not a celebration. It is not a salute. This, readers, is a manifesto. It is a bold declaration of the richness of the South, of the majestic talents, relentless ambition and singular vision that reside just behind each face you pass in your travels. These are the faces of the people who are creating the new South through the sweat of their brow and the depth of their passions. But if you never look closer you may never know how deep that passion goes, and what it has accomplished.

February Brews for a Cause

February's Brews for a Cause was held at the Drayton Hotel on Thursday, February 27th. South Magazine and Southern Eagle teamed up to raise money through a large silent auction for the Savannah Ambucs organization. Craft Beer samplings from Wild Leap Brewing, alongside appetizers from the Drayton Hotel were offered to guests.