In 2016, MWA Grand Master Maron ended her popular Deborah Knott series with Long upon the Land, which resolved several outstanding questions about the characters. She also settles some unresolved issues in this, the excellent 10th and final entry in her series featuring New York City detective Sigrid Harald, which began in 1981 with One Coffee With and seemed to end with 1995’s Fugitive Colors. An unexpected personal problem arises for Harald with the appearance of Vincent Haas, who claims to be the son of her deceased lover, Oscar Nauman. If Vincent is indeed Nauman’s son, he may have a claim on the fortune that his late father left to Harald. Meanwhile, she investigates the mysterious simultaneous poisoning deaths of two homeless people, Matty Mutone and an unidentified older man. Mutone’s sad story, as Harald pieces it together, connects him with one of Harald’s neighbors, the widow of mobster Benny DelVecchio. Another neighbor, former opera star Charlotte Randolph, is able to identify the second victim as Jack Bloss, a backstage worker. A tangle of relationships tests Harald’s abilities to ferret out which of the two men was the killer’s intended victim—and why. If this is indeed Maron’s final book, as she has announced, she is quitting while still in top form. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (June)
PRAISE FOR MARGARET MARON'S DEBORAH KNOTT SERIES:"Bestseller Maron's 20th Deborah Knott mystery (after 2014's Designated Daughters) combines strong plotting, a superb cast of recurring characters, and a rare sense of place that transports readers to rural North Carolina. District court judge Deborah and the huge Knott clan headed by Deborah's father, reformed bootlegger Kezzie Knott, become involved in a murder investigation when Kezzie finds Vick Earp bludgeoned to death on the family farm. Vick and his Earp relatives have had an ongoing feud with the Knotts. When Deborah's lawman husband, Dwight Bryant, is appointed lead investigator, the victim's uncle, Joby Earp, is quick to stir up charges of favoritism. Providing counterpoint to the murder case is the backstory of Deborah's mother, Sue Stephenson, and Sue's relationship with the mysterious Capt. Walter Raynesford McIntyre, of the U.S. Army Air Corps, whom she meets in 1943 at a USO club. It all adds up to another sparkling chapter of the Knott family saga."Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Long Upon the Land
"This author knows how to draw you in! The family interaction made me so curious that it was impossible to put down."Suspense Magazine on Long Upon the Land
"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 on Designated Daughters
"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 (Starred Review) on Designated Daughters