MARGARET MARON – Bootlegger’s Daughter. Deborah Knott #1, Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1992; paperback, June 1993.

   Margaret Maron is the author of seven novels featuring Sigrid Harald, as well as one non-series mystery. I understand that we’ve seen the last of Harald for a while, and that Maron will concentrate on Deborah Knott.

   Fine with me; I liked the Harald stories well enough to read and acquire them, but I think Bootlegger’s Daughter clearly represents a move up in the craft.

   Deborah Knott is a 34 year old attorney who has entered the Democratic Primary for the position of District Judge. Her father is (was?) the best known bootlegger in that part of North Carolina, and they are currently somewhat estranged due to his opposition to her political ambitions.

   Just prior to election day, an old (unrequited) love comes to her for help The story of course deals with her journey into the past in search of answers, but it is much more than just a mystery to be solved. It is the story of a woman trying to enter a man’s world in the old south, and indeed an evocative depiction of the people and culture of a piece of that part of our country.

   I know North Carolina only slightly, but know the rural south well, and found the milieu to be finely and accurately drawn. Deborah herself is an appealing character, a strong and determined woman who I believe will find favor with most readers. I look forward to meeting her again. A very good book, recommended highly.

   A final note: on the back of the dust jacket are no less than seven favorable and well deserved advance comments by fellow mystery writers, and I was struck by the fact that they were all by female authors. Hmmm. One isn’t quite sure what to infer. Do Maron/Mysterious Press consider this primarily a “woman’s” book? Surely not, though that’s the most obvious implication. I would think it almost has to be a marketing decision of some kind. Oh, well.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #3, September 1992.

      The Deborah Knott Series

Bootlegger’s Daughter, 1992
Southern Discomfort, 1993

Shooting at Loons, 1994
Up Jumps the Devil, 1996

Killer Market, 1997
Home Fires, 1998
Storm Track, 2000
Uncommon Clay, 2001
Slow Dollar, 2002
High Country Fall, 2004
Rituals of the Season, 2005
Winter’s Child, 2006

Hard Row, 2007
Death’s Half-Acre, 2008
Sand Sharks, 2009

Christmas Mourning, 2010
Three-Day Town, 2011 (cross-over with Sigrid Harald)
The Buzzard Table, 2012

Designated Daughters, 2014
Long Upon the Land, 2015

Note: Sigrid Harald made two additional appearances after the Deborak Knott series began: Fugitive Colors (1995) and the crossover novel noted above. Bootlegger’s Daughter won the 1992 Agatha and the Anthony, Edgar and Macavity awards for “Best Novel” the following year.