If there's truly such a thing as an American "cozy," Margaret Maron's novels of the contemporary South fit the bill. Not that Deborah Knott, the sexy, smart young district court judge whose extended family of 10 siblings, a curmudgeonly father who used to be a moonshiner, and uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces too numerous to count, bears any resemblance to the maiden ladies of that beloved British genre. But like her English counterparts, Maron eschews blood and gore, and concentrates instead on manners, mores, and motives. And she has few equals on either side of the Atlantic; she weaves telling portraits of ordinary people coping with out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, often in less than a couple of sentences, and tells the whole history of a landscape and a way of life in one short paragraph. In this tradition, Home Fires delineates the remnants of prejudice that linger like an indelible stain on the fabric of race relations in mostly rural Colleton County, North Carolina. When Deborah's family calls on her to help her teenage nephew, who's accused of vandalizing a family cemetery with racial epithets and hate slogans, she butts heads with an angry, aggressive, black female D.A., a charismatic preacher, and an activist and former Black Panther whose closet full of skeletons seems linked to the church arsons. As the plot unfolds, Maron brings the New South into focus, illuminating not only its physical beauty and the complexity of its inhabitants but also the changes and problems caused by integration. Deborah is a steel magnolia whose own fires smolder sexily in scenes with Kidd, her lover, and whose own values and beliefs come in for a penetrating reexamination in this newest in the popular series from Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Award-winning author Maron. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Maron's series featuring North Carolina Circuit Court Judge Deborah Knott got off to a great start when the launch novel, Bootlegger's Daughter (1992), swept the Edgar, the Macavity and the Anthony awards for best novel. The series is notable for the smooth way Maron blends the distinctively Southern charms of Deborah's vast extended family with engrossing plots and an intelligentAbut not heavy-handedAconsideration of social issues. In this sixth outing, Maron skillfully incorporates the changes and problems that integration has brought to the New South. Deborah, who narrates, is at the start of a reelection campaign when a nephew is arrested, with two friends, for desecrating a cemetery. When the same spraypainted graffiti appears at an African American church that's been torched, the young men are suspected of arson. Two more black churches are burned and two bodies uncovered before Deborah fingers the culprit. In a separate plotline, the fate of a young civil rights worker, missing for more than 20 years, is brought to light. Both solutions come a bit too easily, although the identity of the arsonist may surprise readers. Maron lays the groundwork with subtlety, however, and she brings much more depth to her portrait of small-town doings than do most mystery writers. Deborah, who dubs her competing inner voices "the preacher" and "the pragmatist," is a wholly engaging blend of country comfort and New South sophistication. Major ad/promo; Mystery Guild main selection. (Dec.) FYI: Mysterious will publish a mass market edition of the previous Deborah Knott mystery, Killer Market.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Although I enjoyed the slice of Southern life that Maron serves up, I was disappointed that the "mystery" was so low-key. Read morePublished on July 13 2001 by Merry Gottschall
This author writes like an angel.
The Deborah Knott series shows that mystery writing can be highly enjoyable and compelling without unnecessarily confusing plotting, gory... Read more