Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Margaret Maron

So the last few weeks I've been on a Margaret Maron binge. I re-read all of her books and bought her short story collections so I could read them too. She's pretty prolific, 20 novels and 2 short story collections. Her novels fall into three catagories:

1. The Sigrid Harald series. The main character is a stiff, uncompromising female lieutenant on a New York City Homicide squad. Her father, who died when she was a child, was also a police officer. He was killed in the line of duty and his partner is now Sigrid's boss. While Sigrid is uncomfortable in her skin, she is a fully-fleshed character and her supporting cast are all vividly drawn. This series contains 8 books. In the first book One Coffee With, Sigrid and her team are confronted with a murder at a City University, which allows Ms. Maron to bring in a set of eccentric supporting and cameo players, some of whom become recurring characters. New York itself is a character in this book, the subway system in particular is brought to life in Past Imperfect, unfortunately out-of-print.

2. The Deborah Knott series. Starting with Edgar Award-winning Bootlegger's Daughter, this series grabs you, drags you down to North Carolina and keeps you there until you've READ EVERY BOOK AND ARE BEGGING FOR MORE. In the first book, Deborah Knott is an attorney in Dobbs, NC -- a small town where everybody knows everybody else. Confronted with one too many examples of bigotry on the bench, she decides to run for a judgeship in the next election. Her run may be derailed, however, because a young woman she used to babysit for asks her to investigate an 18-year-old murder. Life is made complicated by Deborah's eleven older brothers, all of whom think they have a say in her life. The series mostly takes place in Dobbs, but Deborah does travel to other parts of the state for a few of the books.

3. Two stand-alone novels (though characters from the Deborah Knott series show up in both of them) Bloody Kin and Last Lessons of Summer both have fish-out-of-water elements to them. Both have heroines who get drawn into a mystery just as they are trying to recover their equilibrium after life has kicked the air out of them.

All of her novels and her short stories are like taking mini-vacations. Pure pleasure to read.

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