Designated Daughters (Deborah Knott Series #19)

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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...
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Designated Daughters (Deborah Knott Series #19)

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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.

2014 Agatha Award Nominee for Best Contemporary Novel

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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.)
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.
From the Publisher
"Smartly written"—The New York Times 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."—Booklist on The Buzzard Table

"Maron...adroitly melds ugly American (open) government secrets with classic whodunit intrigue and stirs the pot by itemizing domestic travails that will touch readers' hearts."—Kirkus Reviews on The Buzzard Table

"In Maron's intriguing 18th Deborah Knott mystery...Maron successfully combine a look at family foibles and relationships with a series of moral choices that challenges the characters' sense of law and justice."—Publishers Weekly on The Buzzard Table

"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!!"—--- imainlinefiction.blogspot.com on THREE-DAY TOWN

"Dwight's obsession with New York gourmet delights and Deborah's passion for stylish, impractical footwear are charming, but Sigrid's slow but steady police work carries the day. Fans who have hankered for Deborah and Sigrid to find themselves in the same story will be charmed."—Kirkus on THREE-DAY TOWN

"This is a strong addition to a series that's won Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards."—Publishers Weekly on THREE-DAY TOWN

"[Maron] plots like a modern-day Christie, but the North Carolina charm is all her own."—Kirkus on CHRISTMAS MOURNING

"Warm and authentic family relationships are the heart of this evergreen series."—Publishers Weekly on CHRISTMAS MOURNING

"[A] winning entry and a fine holiday mystery."—Booklist on CHRISTMAS MOURNING

"There's nobody better."—Chicago Tribune

"Every Margaret Maron is a celebration of something remarkable."—New York Times Book Review

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: 8/12/2014
  • Series: Deborah Knott Series, #19
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 70,888
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret Maron
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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    Great read - fans of Judge Deborah Knott will love it.

    Super to have a new Margaret Maron book. Kind of like an old
    friend. So very much anticipated and enjoyable to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    As always-wonderful with real life issues addressed

    I love Margaret Maron-favorite author. And with "Designated Daughters" she doesn't let you down. She writes a wonderful story that even your teenager could read and deals with the real life issue of taking care of our elderly. Can't wait for her next book, I just love Deborah & the Knott clan!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2014

    Marvelous as always!

    She has to be on the top of my list of favorite authors. This is again a great read. I think this will hit home with a lot of daughters and sons who are or will be facing taking care of someone elderly. However, the thread of the story as always is a puzzle and the relationship between Deborah and her family is what makes this and all of Maron's books so good. One feels that they are part of the South and the Knott family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2015

    Another winner for Maron!

    After all these years, Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott and family are still some of my favorite characters. I continue to enjoy the split between Deborah's first person POV narration and husband Dwight's third person POV narration. This book delved deeper into the history of her father's generation

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  • Posted November 7, 2014

    Margaret Maron's usual Southern charm

    I liked Designated Daughters a lot. I first read Bootlegger's daughter a long time back. Since then I've read all or most of the Deborah Knott books. This one succeeds more as a picture of a family or a woman than as a mystery. There were so many clues to unravel in the dying babbling of a cousin of Knott' Who would kill a dying woman anyway. We learn that she and her late husband had a fruit stand and she was a good listener. She learned a lot of secrets. I think this books is for a fan of Maron's. I might not have read more just with this one. Still a lovely walk through Judge Knott's life and an opportunity to learn more about her family.

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  • Posted October 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite Designated Daught

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

    Designated Daughters is the latest installment in the Deborah Knott series written by Margaret Maron. This series is the epitome of southern life. Aunt Rachel has suffered a stroke and is in the care of hospice. Judge Deborah Knott and her family are gathered around her bedside. Rachel is rambling on with bits and pieces of stories that do not seem to go together. The family leaves the room to allow Rachel to rest, only to return to a crime scene. Someone has smothered Aunt Rachel with a pillow. Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant, Deborah’s husband, begins investigating the murder. Could someone have felt threatened by Aunt Rachel’s rambling stories? Even the Designated Daughters are under suspicion. 

    The Designated Daughters is the 19th book in this series. While this tale is most definitely a murder mystery, it also explores the plight of children, elderly parents, caregivers, and sibling relationships. It also touches on the high cost of taking care of sick family members. Margaret Maron always brings a satisfying tale filled with mystery and with the ambiance of the old south. In this tale the plot moves back and forth through time. Aunt Rachel was privy to many secrets and one of those secrets threatened someone enough to murder her. As with most of Margaret Maron’s books, this one is character driven. The characters are multidimensional. The plot is, of course, a mystery but it also has a lot of humor mixed in. This is a complex story with several secondary plots. My copy of Designated Daughters is an audio format. It is read by the author.

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  • Posted October 3, 2014

    I stand in awe of Margaret Maron's meticulous attention to detai

    I stand in awe of Margaret Maron's meticulous attention to details about her many lead and recurring characters. I am one of those annoying readers who rereads my favourite authors' series, and the consistency of Deborah Knott's world is an amazing achievement. So when one of the books in this outstanding series shines a little less brightly than the others, it's not a big concern of mine. I am so busy enjoying my reunion with Deborah and her family and friends that minor plot issues don't even register much. This particular outing for Deborah was, as we often see with Maron, more focused on social issues (in this case the plight of those, including many elderly and disabled people, who cannot live fully independently. Maron did a great job of looking at this growing social issue in a personal and interesting -- and never patronizing -- way. Was the mystery itself a little less engaging? Yes, it was. But I still can't wait for the next Deborah Knott book, and I expect to reread this one and enjoy it all over again. My favourite scene? I want to avoid a spoiler, but put your hand up if Deborah's nighttime outing with her Aunt Zell made you laugh out loud!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2014

    Design

    It is qaurter in mountain, qaurter underground, qaurder underwater, and a qaurter in the sky. The entrance can only be reached by sky.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2014

    I have read all the Deborah Knott novels, and sometimes the book

    I have read all the Deborah Knott novels, and sometimes the book is not as good as the others. This book left me feeling empty, like something has been missed. The killer was exposed, but with remorse and regrets. Yes, the Knotts family is huge and related to many other individuals, but the family characters prove too much for this reader. Also, the relationships between individuals did not ring true. After reading better novels, this story proved disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2014

    I always love a visit with Deborah Knott and family--they feel r

    I always love a visit with Deborah Knott and family--they feel real and they provide a backdrop for whodunits that hit close to home.  
    Who doesn't know a family where an estranged sibling suddenly presents front and center when it's time to divide up his parents' estate?
    The plots, while human and realistic, usually aren't going to shift the balance of power much outside their rural county, but the characters
    and situations are drawn with such warmth and care that the books in this series make great reads.  I'd love to sit out in the pond house 
    some evening and join in one of this family's gatherings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2014

    Waste of time---

    unless u just want to catch up with the Knott family.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Better than the last.

    Better than the last.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

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