After Margaret Maron's first Deborah Knott novel, Bootlegger's Daughter, ran away with the top mystery awards in 1993, this highly acclaimed series has continued to whet our appetite for superb fiction in which the setting is, as the Houston Chronicle noted, "so rich in detail and description of the New South that you can almost hear the North Carolina twang and taste the ...
After Margaret Maron's first Deborah Knott novel, Bootlegger's Daughter, ran away with the top mystery awards in 1993, this highly acclaimed series has continued to whet our appetite for superb fiction in which the setting is, as the Houston Chronicle noted, "so rich in detail and description of the New South that you can almost hear the North Carolina twang and taste the barbecue." Now, in her fourth outing, Deborah Knott is again in the driver's seat, roaring down dirt roads and checking out crime scenes until...
UP JUMPS THE DEVIL.
Murder usually begins at home, and Colleton County, North Carolina, proves no exception. When truck driver and childhood neighbor Dallas Stancil is shot and killed in his own backyard, Judge Deborah Knott figures she owes his memory at least the respectful ritual of taking his widow one of her Aunt Zell's best chicken casseroles.
Mistake Number One.
Dallas wasn't rich, but with development eating up the farms and forests of North Carolina his land is suddenly worth a fortune. His trashy, chain-smoking third wife and grown stepchildren are all too aware of its value. Opportunists--including one of Deborah's own brothers--are coming out of the woodwork. And she knows big money makes people do bad things.
Hardworking, redneck, and salt-of-the-earth, the Stancil men have lived side-by-side with Deborah's family. When the Stancils suffer another tragedy, a long-hidden skeleton rattles its bones and jumps out of what she thought was her long-dead past. She can run the culprit back out of town or maybe get him charged with murder, but ignoring him would be Mistake Number Two.
All around the changing South, Deborah sees hunting dogs, rowdy funerals, backwoods moonshine stills, and long-bed pickups clashing with BMW-driving professionals and housing tracts. With one foot in the rural past and the other in today's high-tech present, she knows her personal world is changing too. This bootlegger's daughter sits on the judicial bench and sees both sides of the law. But she also feels the tug of her roots...and the pull of her heart.
Born and bred in North Carolina where the piedmont meets the sandhills, I grew up on a modest two-mule tobacco farm that has been in the family for over a hundred years. Tobacco is no longer grown on the farm, but the memories linger — the singing, the laughter, the gossip that went on at the bench as those rank green leaves came from the field, the bliss of an icy cold drink bottle pressed to a hot sweaty face, getting up at dawn to help “take out” a barn, the sweet smell of soft golden leaves as they’re being readied for auction. Working in tobacco is one of those life experiences I’m glad to have had. I’m even gladder that it’s something I’ll never have to do again.
After high school came two years of college until a summer job at the Pentagon led to marriage, a tour of duty in Italy, then several years in my husband’s native Brooklyn. I had always loved writing and for the first few years, wrote nothing but short stories and very bad poetry. (The legendary Ruth Cavin of St. Martin’s Press once characterized my verses as “doggerel. But inspired doggerel.”)
Eventually, I backed into writing novels about NYPD Lt. Sigrid Harald, mysteries set against the New York City art world. But love of my native state and a desire to write out of current experiences led to the creation of District Court Judge Deborah Knott, the opinionated daughter of a crusty old ex-bootlegger and youngest sibling of eleven older brothers. (I was one of only three, so no, I’m not writing about my own family.)
We’ve been back on a corner of the family land for many years now. My city-born husband discovered he prefers goldfinches, rabbits, and the occasional quiet deer to yellow cabs, concrete, and a city that never sleeps. A son, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters are icing on our cake.