First book in Maron s series starring Deborah Knott, and set in eastern North Carolina farm country The murder plot is actually almost a subset in the overall story of Knott s electoral race for District Judge return return Maron evokes what certainly appears to me someone who has never spent any real time in North Carolina both a sense of the place and a sense of the people There are those of the old South actively prejudied against blacks, from cops to judges and beyond and then you have other native North Carolinians who are emphatically no such thing Deborah Knott and her huge family for whom Maron clearly has affection but just as clearly does not overly romanticize are an unforgettable set of characters if you can keep her 12 brothers and their families straight All develop through the series and it s too easy on reread to view them now from the perspective of the other books With so many, only a few are briefly sketched out in this book to be fleshed out later as plots demand in later books Most noteworthy are her father and dead mother return return The women, no matter who they are, are strongly drawn and for the most part are themselves very strong characters The older women certainly do not fall into the stereotype of southern belles though they share personality characteristics that we associate with Southern women The men are well drawn too, particularly her cousin Reid, her brother Will, and Dwight Bryant There are sharp character sketches of less than admirable male judges In fact, one of the memorable lines in a book full of them comes from a black woman judge who, at a meet the candidate meeting Southrn style talks to Deborah about the problems she s faced in her first term I thought my big problem was going to be race Honey, race is nothing compared to being a woman in a good ol boy system As a woman who was just starting her professional career in the 60s before the feminist movement got started, believe me, this line resonates return return But there are better Describing her fright at a sudden noise As I opened the door, I heard a rustle somewhere near and every red corpuscle in my body ducked down behind the nearest white ones return return Throughout, Maron uses Christian religious similes and references that are consistent with Knott s I presume Southern Baptist upbringing which seems to be the general ambience of the area used and taken for granted by almost everyone in the book return return Inside was blacker than Satan s unwahsed soul return return These phrases and references are scattered in a thoroughly unforced, unconscious way throughout the book and add enormously to the sense of time and place It s one of the distinctive aspects of the series, totally lacking from her other series featuring a femal detective in NYC return return The climax is well done in keeping with an excellently executed plot The end of the book, which has to do with the main story, is also extremely well done return return Good plot, fascinating back story, and just plain outstanding writing.
This was quite good for what it is I enjoy mysteries, but they re not my absolute favorite relatively speaking not their fault of course, but there are just so many books and so little time Still, this was quite satisfying, and I can see why it swept the Mystery awards the year it came out.
The protagonist Deborah Knott has just enough moxy and sass to win your respect but also enough vulnerability and insecurity to keep her interesting The other characters were also well drawn and fun Maron does a great job bringing a small southern town to life, while addressing important and heavy social issues like racism, sexism, homophobia especially as they relate to the American South, which is tough in this particular narrative which is also supposed to be light and fun She does it and she makes it work.
The writing is also top notch with prose that are tight, fluid, and fun to read.
There are several layers to this mystery and I did figure them out, though I would like to think that a credit to me than a discredit to the author I initially picked this up because of the praise it has received and because of Maron s reputation Happy to say I was not disappointed While released in the 90s, it s a little outdated, but still a worthy read particularly for fans interested in reading the best of the best within the mystery genre I picked up two additional books in this series at my local library, a bag of books for a dollar kind of deal and look forward to reading May even make my way through the series.
I read this book because it was selected by my book club, though I m still trying to figure out why they selected it It is what you might call a cozy criminal mystery with an attorney playing private detective as a favor to someone she used to babysit for years ago But I didn t find it too cozy a story with all the unlikable characters and their prejudices directed at people who were different from them in gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation This story takes place in North Carolina in 1990 I checked the date twice because I thought I might have read it wrong since it seemed like 1960 with the characters non accepting attitudes I think I have a few new permanent frown lines after spending than a week reading this book in which the main character, daughter of a bootlegger, is investigating an unsolved murder case from eighteen years back The mystery is the only reason I gave this book two stars instead of one Even though I guessed some of what happened, it kept me interested enough to finish the book to find out the rest But wow, I wanted to knock some sense into the characters heads, including the whiny, self pitying, petty minded main character Oh well If my writing this review saves someone from choosing this book, my time spent reading it will have been worth it.
A good mystery book The first in the Deborah Knott series A good look at the South I like the main character She is realistic and not too sexy She is intelligent The only problem I had with the book is that there are about a billion characters and it s really hard to keep them all straight Surprise ending Very well written Main themes discrimination against homosexuals, discrimination against women, discrimination against African Americans.
Loved this book Deborah Knott is running for District judge in a NC county Daughter of the local bootlegger, she is well known in the community When a girl she used to babsysit for asks her to look into her mother s death when she was a baby, she gets involved in very old secrets The community flavor and characters are very believable and intersting And I really like Deborah and wanted to cheer her on in the political race This is a very good read and I cant beleive it took me so long to get to it Well worth it.
There is a good writer within Margaret Maron Her dialogue is solid, her characters are three dimensional, and her settings are vividly described Unfortunately, I felt that she wasted far too much time talking about North Carolina high society same issue I had with New Orleans Mourning and too little talking about the mystery, which became kind of obvious after awhile I m probably shorting this book a star to be spiteful but I wanted a solid murder mystery, not a romp through lifestyles of the south Moreover, who the hell picks these Edgar Award winners I ve read a bunch of them and, while they re not bad, they re not really what I would consider to be the best mysteries I already explained the issues I had with New Orleans Mourning LaBrava is fine but far from El Leonard s best work Eye of the Needle is decent but overrated Same with The Day of the Jackal All of these are notable for their atmospheres than their cases Does anyone else pick up on this Maybe it s just me.
This First Novel In Maron S Imperfect Series, Which Won The Edgar Award For Best Mystery Novel In , Introduces Heroine Deborah Knott, An Attorney And The Daughter Of An Infamous North Carolina Bootlegger Known For Her Knowledge Of The Region S Past And Popular With The Locals, Deb Is Asked By Year Old Gayle Whitehead To Investigate The Unsolved Murder Of Her Mother Janie, Who Died When Gayle Was An Infant While Visiting The Owner Of The Property Where Janie S Body Was Found, Deb Learns Of Janie S Than Promiscuous Past Piecing Together Lost Clues And Buried Secrets Deb Is Introduced To Janie S Darker Side, But It S Not Until Another Murder Occurs That She Uncovers The Truth BOOTLEGGER S DAUGHTER ExMaron, Margaret 1st in seriesDeborah Knott is an attorney and the daughter of an infamous North Carolina bootlegger Known for her knowledge of the region s past and popular with the locals, Deb is asked by 18 year old Gayle Whitehead to investigate the unsolved murder of her mother Janie, who died when Gayle was an infant While visiting the owner of the property where Janie s body was found, Deb learns of Janie s than promiscuous past Piecing together lost clues and buried secrets Deb is introduced to Janie s darker side, but it s not until another murder occurs that she uncovers the truth.
I loved this book The characters were so well drawn and the sense of place alive.