From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Agatha-winner Maron's outstanding 14th novel to feature Judge Deborah Knott (after 2007's Hard Row
) charts the social changes in rural Colleton County, N.C., as housing developments and shopping malls squeeze out small farmers. The apparent suicide of a greedy county commissioner sets Knott's husband, sheriff's deputy Dwight Bryant, on a case that uncovers corruption and murder. Though busy settling small-claims disputes and participating in family gatherings, Knott herself gets involved in the case because of implications for her own future in local politics. She's also worried about the activities of her father, who's retired as a bootlegger but is still an unrepentant flim-flam man. Maron observes the levelheaded Knott, her large extended family, neighbors and the whole community with cool but genuine sympathy; even criminals remain believably human. Those looking for a mellow, down-home mystery will be well rewarded. (Aug.)
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In the fourteenth installment of her Judge Deborah Knott series, Maron highlights the tensions of new real-estate development as longtime rural residents cope with the changes brought by farms giving way to sprawling houses and big-box chain stores. When county commissioner Candace Bradshaw is murdered, some see it as her comeuppance for brokering under-the-table deals between developers and certain county commissioners. Others, however, such as Candace’s much older ex-husband, know that Candace grew up dirt poor and had an almost physical need for luxurious possessions. Deborah’s new husband, Sheriff Dwight Bryant, investigates the murder, and surprising revelations emerge about just how Deborah was appointed judge. In addition, Maron introduces a satisfying subplot about Deborah’s father, Kezzie, a former major-league bootlegger who has never lost his taste for the big con. All of the machinations are delivered in a chatty style rife with colorful country expressions. As always, the mystery, neatly resolved, intersects with the home- and community-centered concerns of the large Knott family. Satisfying reading for both series fans and those new to the author. --Joanne Wilkinson