I have said on here and elsewhere that Margaret Maron is a fine enough writer to convey just about whatever mood or ideas or setting she wishes. Despite that skill, her eight Sigrid Harald mysteries are a little dry -- skillful plots and good detective work seem to hold one's attention, but the entertainment factor is a little low. All that goes away with the 1992 debut of rural North Carolina's attorney (and judge wannabe) Deborah Knott. From lengthy settings on the farm, gone fishin', even in court, we get a real flavor of the locale and the people appearing herein. And our new leading lady gives us plenty to like as she not only toils to solve an 18-year old murder (shades of Lee Harris' Christine Bennett), but also rails a bit against the local magistrates and decides to run for district judge herself.
The plot is fairly compelling, with a nice prequel to set the stage, and then the mainline occuring two decades later. Before it's all over, two more murders lead to a fairly surprising ending, and one that not everybody may like real well. Along the way we get brief exposés on blacks in the south and gays in bible belt territory (even Deborah seems to have a pretty good stable of verses memorized which she hauls out from time to time). It's clear from the rest of the series that Knott gets her judgeship, and I for one look forward to see how that transition goes. As for "Judging Deborah", a thumbs up so far!