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Uncommon Clay [Mass Market Paperback]

Margaret Maron
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 2002
In the red clay country of Seagrove, North Carolina, Judge Deborah Knott oversees the distribution of property in the bitter divorce between two members of the Nordan clan, a dynasty of skilled potters long cursed by suicide and scandal. After a gruesome act of violence suddenly strikes the homestead, Judge Knott must stop a killer who will stop at nothing to continue a dark history of family secrets, old sins, and new blood. (July)

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From Publishers Weekly

In this eighth book in the Judge Deborah Knott series (after 2000's Storm Track), Maron employs spare, straightforward prose and the languid language of the Carolina Piedmont to spin an exceptionally gripping tale of hate, jealousy and murder. Still smarting from the betrayal of her lover, Kidd Chapin, the redoubtable jurist travels to Randolph County, N.C., in order to settle the equitable distribution of the marital property of a pair of freshly divorced potters, Sandra Kay Nordan and James Lucas Nordan. Before she can finish her legal duties, however, somebody bakes James Lucas in a kiln. Deborah's own sense of loss in the wake of Kidd's rejection helps her empathize with patriarch Amos Nordan's multiple tragedies (another son died two years earlier) as well as a hired woman's grief over her retarded son. Amidst a beautifully evoked flowering spring countryside, Deborah pursues the murderer with her usual keen eye and common sense. If the book fairly swells with passion, a healthy dose of Southern humor keeps things from getting too maudlin. By the time the story reaches its dramatic conclusion, readers will be in mourning, wishing the end hadn't come so soon. Maron's mastery of jurisprudence, her well-researched depiction of the potting world but especially her sensitive portrayal of human relationships raise this novel far above the ordinary run of mysteries. (May 22)all four top mystery awards the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha and the Macavity. Maron, who's also the author of the Sigrid Harald series, will be the guest of honor at this year's Malice Domestic Convention.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The famous Nordan family, who live in an area of North Carolina known for its pottery, is being torn apart by a traumatic and bitter divorce. Judge Deborah Knotts (Storm Track) oversees distribution of the marital property, but her work is interrupted by a tragic death in the family reminiscent of a terrible suicide two years earlier. Heady stuff from a talented author.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Uncommon Margaret Maron Feb. 11 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have been a fan of Margaret Maron's for years. I read all of her first series of books, the Sigrid Harald mysteries. I was at first disappointed when she had made the switch to Deboral Knott and had a hard time liking Deborah as much as Sigrid - maybe with Sigrid, "like" is not the right word, but rather "fascinated by" is better put. I have now, however, come to enjoy this series as much. In this episode, Judge Knott has recently broken with her semi-boyfriend and she is assigned to a divorce settlement case in a neighboring city. One of the divorcing spouses is killed and Deborah steps in to help solve the murder. This is a bit different from the regular Judge Knott mysteries as she does not actively work on finding the culprit, rather she lets people around her gossip, watches peoples'interactions, and puts two and two together. Maron's writing, as usual, is topnotch; the mystery is easy to figure out but the book is still a winner because she always makes the surrondings and people inhabiting the book interesting. Can't wait for the next episode, "Slow Dollar." Keep 'em coming, Ms. Maron!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I found this book to be "uncommonly" good! July 30 2001
Format:Hardcover
Continuing my love affair with the works of Margaret Maron, I returned to her Deborah Knott series and really enjoyed "Uncommon Clay", which is a quick read with an ending that surprised me.
Deb is again on the road, visiting Asheboro this time, and the reader gets the treat of learning more about NC folk crafts...(prior novels have featured furniture), this time with the work of Carolina's folk pottery industry. Some interesting and colorful new characters and friends are added to the story line. The book also continues the saga of Deb's romances, and how badly they go sometimes. In this tale, Deb has two embarrassing scrapes with the down side of relationships. Maron also takes the time to insert a small tidbit about Oscar Nauman, a character from her Sigrid Harald series, in a way that makes the reference seem real and natural.
With its interesting plots, spunky heroine, delightful descriptions of large southern families and friends, and its ability to educate the reader on the life and times of beautiful NC, the Knott series is a fast, entertaining, and well written group of books. Uncommon Clay still leaves me hungry for more!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great addition o this mystey series April 25 2001
Format:Hardcover
After a quarter of a century of marriage in which the twosome argued and fought seemingly all the time, but produced incredible pottery, the Nordans are divorcing. Randolph County, North Carolina visiting Judge Deborah Knott must equitably and legally divide the property between James Lucas Nordan and Sandra Kay Hitchcock, but Her Honor realizes that this is an extremely complicated knot to untie.
Before Deborah finishes her distribution, someone murders James. Deborah wonders if his homicide might be tied into his brother's suicide two years ago. Unable to remain on the sidelines, Deborah begins to investigate he recent tragedies of the Nordan family.
UNCOMMON CLAY, the latest Judge Knott mystery (see STORM TRACK) is a taut regional thriller that combines down home wit and humor with a tense who-done-it. The story line never slackens for even a paragraph as readers are drawn into the Nordan family like Pooh Bear to honey (that simile is for Ashley Klausner who gracefully let me use it). The charcaters, especially the Judge, leave the reader touching the red clay of North Carolina. As usual marvelous Margaret Maron provides another wonderful tale that will thrill sub-genre fans.

Harriet Klausner
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4.0 out of 5 stars Uncommon Clay July 22 2001
Format:Hardcover
Uncommon Clay is not one of Margaret Maron's best Judge Deborah Knott books. That said, it is still very much worth reading. The ending was a little too easy to figure out for my tastes. However, Maron (in the Knott series) has a great ability to describe people and places so that you truly feel that not only can you imagine what it would be like - but you can feel like you are there. Uncommon Clay taught me a lot about pottery making in the area. Also, we learn more about Deborah's friendships. I was glad to see the end of her relationship; although, I do think it would be nice to see her get revenge. "Living well is the best revenge" and by the end of the book, I'm not sure I was satisfied that she was living well. I highly recommend all of the Judge Deborah Knott books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Uncommon Clay May 11 2001
Format:Hardcover
Judge Deborah Knott is called to a town where she is to mediate the splitting of property during the divorce settlement of two well-known potters. Soon after she arrives, one of the disputants is found dead. Deborah does some investigating and finds out that there is a history of problems among the members of this artistic family. The patriarch, Amos, rules over his clan with an iron fist and causes jealousy and infighting when he keeps changing his will as to who will inherit the business. Several people seem to have a motive for murder, and soon other murders occur. As usual, author Moran evokes a vivid picture of the North Carolina countryside and the folk artists who inhabit this particular area of the state. This is a good read!
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