Designated Daughters (Deborah Knott Series #19)

Designated Daughters (Deborah Knott Series #19)

4.3 15
by Margaret Maron
     
 

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When Judge Deborah Knott is summoned to her ailing Aunt Rachel's bedside, she assumes the worst. Thankfully when she arrives at the hospice center she learns that Rachel hasn't passed; in fact, the dying woman is awake. Surrounded by her children, her extended family, and what seems like half of Colleton County, a semi-conscious Rachel breaks weeks of pained

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Overview

When Judge Deborah Knott is summoned to her ailing Aunt Rachel's bedside, she assumes the worst. Thankfully when she arrives at the hospice center she learns that Rachel hasn't passed; in fact, the dying woman is awake. Surrounded by her children, her extended family, and what seems like half of Colleton County, a semi-conscious Rachel breaks weeks of pained silence with snippets of stories as randomly pieced together as a well-worn patchwork quilt. But the Knott family's joy quickly gives way to shock: less than an hour later, Aunt Rachel is found dead in her bed, smothered with a pillow.

Who would kill a woman on her deathbed? Was it an act of mercy, or murder? As Deborah and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, investigate they cross paths with an unlikely set of suspects: Rachel's longtime minister; her neighbor, the respected local doctor; the friendly single father who often sought her advice; and perhaps the most puzzling party of all, the Designated Daughters, a support group for caregivers that Rachel's own daughter belongs to.

Soon Deborah and Dwight realize that the key to solving this case is hidden in Rachel's mysterious final words. Her mixed-up memories harbored a dark secret-a secret that someone close to them is determined to bury forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/09/2014
In MWA Grand Master Maron’s outstanding 19th mystery featuring judge Deborah Knott of North Carolina’s Colleton County (after 2012’s The Buzzard Table), Deborah’s elderly aunt, Rachel Morton, lies near death in a hospice. Rachel attracts a crowd of friends and relatives as she talks of “babies, fires, and unpaid debts, of someone who beat his wife and of cowbirds and vegetables and broken jars.” A distraction allows a killer enough time to slip into Rachel’s room and smother her with a pillow, thus ending her ramblings, which apparently concealed deadly secrets. Unraveling those secrets—some 60 years old—is a slow, difficult process with lots of suspects among friends and family. Maron achieves a delicate balance as she explores differences between mistakes, sins, and crimes, and shows that justice is not always arrived at by conventional means. Humor (e.g., Deborah outfoxes an unscrupulous auctioneer) and social issues (e.g., the difficult role of caregivers to the elderly) add to the warmth of a large family with all its foibles, squabbles, and quirks. Five-city author tour. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
In DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS, practically the whole clan shows up at the hospice where Aunt Rachel has interrupted the process of dying to deliver a rambling account of all the things that have been on her wandering mind. It's quite a lovely deathbed aria, narrated in the honeyed accents of the region. But someone must have feared Aunt Rachel might divulge a buried secret because that someone creeps into her room and smothers her with a pillow.

Maron knows how to adorn a solid murder mystery with plenty of ancillary entertainments. But her broader theme involves the way families flourish when they work together for the common good. While there are charming scenes of group projects like building a pond shed and assembling a bluegrass band, the clan members Maron really cherishes are those who devote themselves to caring for the elders of the family. Living saints they are, every last one of them.—New York Times Book Review

In MWA Grand Master Maron's outstanding 19th mystery featuring judge Deborah Knott of North Carolina's Colleton County (after 2012's The Buzzard Table), Deborah's elderly aunt, Rachel Morton, lies near death in a hospice. Rachel attracts a crowd of friends and relatives as she talks of "babies, fires, and unpaid debts, of someone who beat his wife and of cowbirds and vegetables and broken jars." A distraction allows a killer enough time to slip into Rachel's room and smother her with a pillow, thus ending her ramblings, which apparently concealed deadly secrets. Unraveling those secrets-some 60 years old-is a slow, difficult process with lots of suspects among friends and family. Maron achieves a delicate balance as she explores differences between mistakes, sins, and crimes, and shows that justice is not always arrived at by conventional means. Humor (e.g., Deborah outfoxes an unscrupulous auctioneer) and social issues (e.g., the difficult role of caregivers to the elderly) add to the warmth of a large family with all its foibles, squabbles, and quirks.—Publishers Weekly

When Judge Deborah Knott gets a call from the convalescent home about her Aunt Rachel, she expects to hear the worst. She arrives to find her aunt awake and telling stories from her past, including some that are new to Deborah. Yet within hours Rachel is dead, and it is obvious that she was murdered. While Deborah and her husband, sheriff's deputy Dwight Bryant, investigate, her family becomes embroiled in a dispute with a dirty antiques dealer. Alternating viewpoints between Deborah and Dwight, Maron weaves family threads together with current events that leave the reader wanting to know more about the Knott family tree.

Verdict: The author's 19th series outing (after The Buzzard Table) offers loyal fans a fresh look at her expansive family and community. Readers will savor the slow-paced Southern culture and layered story. Maron was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 2013.—Library Journal

[four stars] Maron is still going strong with the 19th installment in her Deborah Knott series. DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS is a solid mystery where Southern charm meets murder. Maron delves into some social issues of today, and readers can expect a small-town family atmosphere with a lot of heart.

Judge Deborah Knott's beloved Aunt Rachel is expected to pass away at any moment—but she wakes up surrounded by family and friends and begins to reminisce as if she were a young woman again. The Knott family's happiness at Rachel's great improvement is short lived when she is smothered with a pillow shortly thereafter. As Deborah and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, look into what happened, their path continues to cross with a list of unlikely suspects. The pair soon realizes that the motive for murder was a secret told during Aunt Rachel's mixed-up ramblings before her death—a secret worth killing for.—RT Book Reviews

Chicago Tribune
"There's nobody better."
New York Times Book Review
"Every Margaret Maron is a celebration of something remarkable."
Booklist on CHRISTMAS MOURNING
"[A] winning entry and a fine holiday mystery."
The New York Times on The Buzzard Table
"Smartly written"
Booklist on The Buzzard Table
"As always, Maron skillfully layers an absorbing plot with the doings of Deborah's large extended family and the domestic details of their semirural lifestyle. In addition, the contrast between Deborah, who is warm and caring, and Sigrid, who is reserved and cerebral, gives Maron's tale added depth."
--- imainlinefiction.blogspot.com on THREE-DAY TOWN
"This book has plenty of suspense and the characters are well done. One of Ms. Maron's strengths is the believability of her characters. They add to the story and don't distract the reader with useless red herrings. As usual, the interplay between Dwight and Deborah is wonderfully romantic even in the midst of a murder. I have to say that I will be glad to see them back home in the next book. I just love the family dynamics and the southern ambiance in these books. Can't wait for the next book in the series!!"
Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-14
The unlikely murder of an elderly relative sends a judge and her husband scurrying to investigate family history in order to find out who stands to gain from an old woman's death. When her cousin Sally Crenshaw shows up in her courtroom unexpectedly, Judge Deborah Knott assumes that her father's sister Rachel has finally passed. Just the opposite is true. Aunt Rachel seems to be back from the brink and has been telling tales of times past. The extended family gathers around to listen and spend time with her, though they leave her to rest when she drifts off to sleep. Given her sudden, miraculous recovery, the family is shocked when they learn that Aunt Rachel died just 40 minutes after they left her to sleep. They're even more shocked when it appears that she's been murdered. Who would kill a woman already so close to death? Suspecting that there must have been some secrets in the stories Aunt Rachel was sharing, Deborah encourages her husband, Dwight, a police officer, to investigate. She senses that the murder may have something to do with the death of Jacob, Aunt Rachel's beloved brother, who drowned in his 16th summer. Now Dwight has to go through Aunt Rachel's reminiscences to determine a motive for murder—and it turns out there's more than one secret she spilled that some wish would've stayed hidden.Though Maron (The Buzzard Table, 2012, etc.) unearths more of Deborah's family history for long-term fans, the main story is often burdened by too many characters and their tangential relationships.
Library Journal
★ 08/01/2014
When Judge Deborah Knott gets a call from the convalescent home about her Aunt Rachel, she expects to hear the worst. She arrives to find her aunt awake and telling stories from her past, including some that are new to Deborah. Yet within hours Rachel is dead, and it is obvious that she was murdered. While Deborah and her husband, sheriff's deputy Dwight Bryant, investigate, her family becomes embroiled in a dispute with a dirty antiques dealer. Alternating viewpoints between Deborah and Dwight, Maron weaves family threads together with current events that leave the reader wanting to know more about the Knott family tree. VERDICT The author's 19th series outing (after The Buzzard Table) offers loyal fans a fresh look at her expansive family and community. Readers will savor the slow-paced Southern culture and layered story. Maron was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 2013. [See Prepub Alert, 2/10/14.]

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455545285
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
08/12/2014
Series:
Deborah Knott Series, #19
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
180,965
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Maron grew up on a farm near Raleigh and lived in Brooklyn for many years. Returning to her North Carolina roots prompted Margaret to write a series based on her own background, the first of which, Bootlegger's Daughter, was a Washington Post bestseller and swept the major mystery awards for 1993. DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS is the nineteenth book in the acclaimed Deborah Knott series. Visit her website at www.margaretmaron.com.

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