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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Our 14th annual contest is back! Nominate your favorite chef (or yourself) for South magazine’s Greatest Chefs contest!

South's Greatest Pets 2020

South magazine is seeking the greatest pets of the South! Nominate your pet NOW through June 17th at midnight!
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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...

  • Libertea High Tea

    Jun 24, 2020
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Savannah Coffee Roasters

    Wednesdays and Saturdays: Sit back and relax around the open fire and enjoy delicious pastries, cakes, chocolates and savory delights from our...

  • #iSPYtogether Summer Challenge

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

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  • The Society of Bluffton Artists(SOBA) 2020 Summer Art Camp

    Jun 22, 2020
    All Day @ Society of Bluffton Artists

    The Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA)’s 2020 Summer Art Camp for kids is now taking registrations. The art camp runs from 9-11 a.m....

  • 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...

  • Afternoons at the Aquarium

    Jun 25, 2020
    All Day @ UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

    Every Thursday in June and July, marine educators at the UGA Aquarium will host virtual programs designed to inspire wonder and curiosity about the...

  • 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...

  • Girl Scout QuestFest

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    This year's QuestFest will be a virtual scavenger hunt! Both competitive and noncompetitive teams are searching for experiences, not items....

  • Puppy Yoga Time

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  • Walk with the Turtles: Ossabaw Island

    Jul 20, 2020
    8:00 AM - 2:00 AM @ Delegal Creek Marina Skidaway Island

    Depart 8:00 am from Delegal Creek Marina on Skidaway Island, just outside of Savannah. After a 30-minute boat ride across Ossabaw Sound, arrive on...

  • 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....

  • Meet Our Fleet: Virtual Tour of UGA Aquarium

    Jul 21, 2020
    All Day

    All aboard! Join us for a virtual tour of the UGA aquarium’s fleet of educational and research vessels with boat captains Todd Recicar...

  • Savannah Carnaval

    Jul 25, 2020
    All Day @ Savannah Carnaval

      Our Savannah Carnaval event is back for its second annual Brazil-inspired event! Jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics, dance beats from,...

  • Savannah Chamber Business on the Move

    Jul 28, 2020
    5:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ The Broughton Hotel

    Join the Chamber for Business on the Move this month at The Drayton Hotel! Bring your business cards to this after-work networking gathering...

  • Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In

    Jul 30, 2020
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

    Enjoy three fun-filled days of good ole mountain hillbilly fun. See a Pioneer village, real moonshine still in the works, mountain crafts, and...

  • First Fridays in Starland

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

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  • Umphrey's McGee Summer Tour 2020

    Aug 07, 2020
    All Day @ Johnny Mercer Theatre

    Umphrey’s McGee Summer Tour will be making at stop at the Johnny Mercer Theatre on Friday, August 7th at 8:00pm. The music of...

  • Meet the Author: In the Cauldron

    Aug 08, 2020
    All Day @ Museum of the Might Eighth Air Force

    This is not just another book about Pearl Harbor. It is the story of Joseph Grew, America’s ambassador to Japan, and his frantic effort in...

  • Georgia Mountain Fair

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

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  • Tedeschi Trucks Band Signs 2020 Tour

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    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...


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Scenes of the South

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.

2020 Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association held its annual Southern Coast Heart Ball on Saturday, February 8th at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception with a silent auction, dinner and program, and dancing to end the evening. All proceeds went to the Open Your Heart campaign.

4th Annual Hearts for Healing Gala

Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center held its Fourth Annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, February 7th at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Guests enjoyed gourmet dining, dancing, and a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction benefitted the Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center's program for individuals with disabilities.

IDC Benefits the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

The LeClerc Family owners of IDC (International Diamond Center) in Savannah 349 Mall Blvd held a benefit to support the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire on Thursday, February 6th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Guests enjoyed light food and drinks, while bidding on several silent auction items, including autographed footballs and helmets donated by Anthony Lanier II.