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Christmas Mourning Hardcover – November 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (November 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446555800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446555807
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,258,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The death of Mallory Johnson, a popular high school cheerleader, in a suspicious car crash propels Edgar-winner Maron's satisfying 16th Deborah Knott mystery (after 2009's Sand Sharks). While Deborah, a Colleton County, N.C., judge, and her huge clan are preparing for a big North Carolina Christmas, her husband, chief deputy Dwight Bryant, looks into the shooting of two trailer-park brothers. Deborah's countless nieces and nephews pop up frequently, and Deborah, with her realistic and appealing combination of common sense and a sharp ear, pulls clues from the kids' random comments. Mallory's less popular half-brother, her slighted best friend, and all the boys she toyed with are all possible bad guys, though how the one-car accident was orchestrated is a mystery in itself. As usual, interludes with relatives overshadow the investigating, but of course the warm and authentic family relationships are the heart of this evergreen series. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As Christmas and their first anniversary approach, District Judge Deborah Knott and chief sheriff’s deputy Major Dwight Bryant deal with three deaths in their Colleton County, North Carolina, community. First Mallory Johnson, the golden girl of her senior high-school class, dies after crashing her car on the way home from a party, just two months after two students died and another was crippled, also in a car crash. Days later, the two teenage, ne’er-do-well Wentworth brothers are found shot to death. The community is especially shaken by Mallory’s death, since the homecoming queen and cheerleader was known not to drink or do drugs (although neither was she Little Miss Perfect), but Dwight is diverted from that investigation by the murders. As Deborah and Dwight gather and share information from family and friends about both cases, they find connections to a decades-old death. Yet Deborah carries on her holiday routines, even having a breakthrough with a previously chilly sister-in-law. Maron’s trademark warm humor and Deborah’s and Dwight’s loving kinfolk leaven the tragedy to make this sixteenth in the series another winning entry and a fine holiday mystery. --Michele Leber

More About the Author

MARGARET MARON is the author of twenty-seven novels and two collections of short stories. Winner of several major American awards for mysteries (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity), her works are on the reading lists of various courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into 15 languages. She has served as president of Sisters in Crime, the American Crime Writers League, and Mystery Writers of America. Visit her at

A native Tar Heel, she still lives on her family's century farm a few miles southeast of Raleigh, the setting for Bootlegger's Daughter, which is numbered among the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In 2004, she received the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for best North Carolina novel of the year; and in 2008, the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state's highest civilian honor. Her mystery novels feature District Court Judge Deborah Knott and are the pegs upon which she hangs her love and concern for the state.

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Customer Reviews

Like this character with great intrigue and sometimes complex plot.
george l.trusz
Another year has produced another winner in this series and as always with Ms. Maron's work you have to get to the end of the book to know who done it!
Mary Gramlich
This latest installment in Margaret Maron's long-running Deborah Knott mystery series may be her crowning achievement.
Carolina Gurll

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Mary Gramlich VINE VOICE on November 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It has been a year of non-stop change for Judge Deborah Knott and her husband the Colleton County Sherriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant. They are about to celebrate their first anniversary and finally have Dwight's son Cal settled into living with them after the tragedy of losing his mother. But this homey scene is rocked when Mallory, a popular teenager dies in a tragic car accident. Leaving too many questions and no answers in what should be an open and shut case.

Questions start popping up when Mallory's last voice mail to her brother plays out the final moments of her life in too real detail. The suspicion that she might have been drinking escalates into fact which causes escalation that she had been drugged since Mallory may have flirted with the boys she was not a girl known to walk against the grain and never drank alcohol. So Dwight starts digging deeper into the situation and without a day gone by two more bodies turn up and this time their cause of death is obvious - gun shots straight on. These brothers were always on the wrong side of the law but what could have caused them to have been so brutally murdered? Is this case related to the traffic accident? What is it that Mallory's family is not telling him that might be at the core of the problem? Too many questions and no one is saying a word, this definitely is not the way to kick off the holiday season that is for sure.

Dwight is tenacious, Deborah is a snoop and family is determined to find out what happened and hopefully resolving these crimes will not lead to anymore but it is not looking good. But what is going on at the house is another head scratcher?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Chick on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read several Margaret Maron books years ago and decided to pick this one up for a Christmas read. I remember liking her books quite well, but this one was only so-so. I quickly became annoyed with the neices and nephews, and, since it had been a while since I had visited the Knott family, I had trouble keeping straight which kid belonged to which brother. Also, the teenagers were just a little too cute and a little too flat for my taste. Maybe if there were fewer of them they could be better developed. With that being said, it was fine for a snowy Sunday afternoon. I
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Julia Walker VINE VOICE on November 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although the cosy is almost my least-favorite form of mystery (just above detective-as-drunk noir and those themed things with pasta or knitting in all the titles), I always buy Margaret Maron's Colleton County books. When Deborah Knott leaves her home turf, I find the tales too thin, but when Maron keeps the judge at home, it's a feast of food, family, music, farm life, and her insights about the shocking changes in the culture and landscape of my native South.

This is a good entry in the series -- or a good entry point if you've read none of them. Deborah's family is tied to the land of eastern NC, literally and emotionally. As traditional farming gets amplified by organic and specialty crops, the latest generation of her family maintains that bond. Deborah Knott's love of the land is presented to us through dozens of casually recounted memories and family stories, as is her romance with her old friend/new husband. No, there's not much action, but Maron's ear is exquisite and the dialogue is a real treat for Southerners in exile.

The plot here touches on the problem of high school kids and their cell phone culture -- texting while driving now seems to be almost as lethal is drinking and driving. As usual, the actions of the characters in the criminal plot are shadowed by members of Deborah's enormous family, and we get a sense of how confused teens are by all the choices they have.

There's no blood, no politics, no attempts To Achieve World Peace, no gimmicks, but in this genre, that's fine. Maron's series still offers that gentle pleasure: a quiet afternoon reading on the porch.

That said, this is the first Maron I've read since discovering Louise Penny.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Latham on November 19, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
by a hometown author. I've read just about every word Margaret Maron has had published. I own most, going so far as buying some of the old Sigrid books on Ebay. I've attended two launch parties at Margaret's home book store, Quail Ridge Books here in Raleigh, and even enjoyed a piece of Deborah and Dwight's wedding cake there. I wish Deborah was my best friend. I particularly enjoy Margaret's country dialog which is charming and spot on.

All that being said, you can believe me when I say I can be as stubborn as her greedy publisher about the price point. As of this morning, I can buy a new hardcover here for $11.75, a used hardcover for $10.99, but the Kindle version remains at $12.99. I'm a K1 "early adopter" so I am in the $9.99 for any book crowd. I did NOT purchase CHRISTMAS MOURNING, which I WOULD HAVE if the Kindle price was $9.99. Instead, a coworker let me read her library copy. This coworker also owns a Kindle and would have purchased at $9.99. So, Mr./Ms. Publisher, you lost two sales.

Also, sad to say, the editor was asleep at the wheel----"leafs"! Please!

About the story itself I'll say this was the least "mysterious" of any in the series. Deborah didn't even get herself into a perilous pickle as she has in the past. I felt this break with the recipe was amply compensated by the detail and family warmth. I enjoyed visiting with the Knott/Bryants again and savored every word. I look forward to the next installment. Keep them coming, Margaret.
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