From Publishers Weekly
Known best for her Deborah Knott novels (Slow Dollar, etc.) and her Sigrid Harald series (Fugitive Colors, etc.), Edgar-winner Maron has produced a standalone gem, set in North Carolina's Piedmont country, that focuses on a large matriarchal family. Amy Steadman, a toy company executive in New York City, returns to her Southern roots one steamy August after inheriting a fortune from her murdered maternal grandmother, Frances Barbour. Aided by Beth, her pouty younger half-sister, Amy sorts through furniture, books and other personal items in Grandma Frances's summer house, where Amy's mother, Maxie, committed suicide when Amy was three. Amy is determined to find out what was really behind her mother's death-and her grandmother's, too. Amy's many kinfolk, who pass in and out of the house, seem as kind and gentle as can be, but one of them is decidedly dangerous. Cousin Curt is poisoned with jimson weed seeds cooked into a jar of preserves, and another tainted jar turns up in Amy's refrigerator. Maron has a faultless ear for Southern speech, dotting her dialogue with regionalisms like "I might could have." A feast of clues and red herrings, the book builds to a climax that hits like a hot bullet blast. With oodles of characters to keep straight, readers will find the family tree at the start an essential guide.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This is a stand-alone mystery from the author of the popular Judge Deborah Knott series. Fans of the Knott series will want to read Maron's latest, but this desultory sleuthing excursion might leave them disappointed. A New York City heiress to a toy company returns to North Carolina after her grandmother's death and, in the course of clearing the house, finds herself investigating her grandmother's murder and the suspicious death, years before, of her own mother. The writing, unfortunately, suggests an insipid teen romance. The heroine, in crisis, urges herself on with sayings from a beloved book about two stuffed animals: "What do you think, Pink? What'll we do, Blue?" Plot twists are delivered awkwardly, sometimes in artificial dialogue, as in, "Yet, three years later, she shot herself. Why, Dad?" The heroine doesn't so much solve the mystery as stand around while people decide to divulge secrets. Maron is a popular mystery author, and most library collections will need her complete works, but this one is sadly deficient. Connie Fletcher
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