Designated Daughters

Margaret Maron, Author
Margaret Maron. Grand Central, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4528-5
Open Ebook - 362 pages - 978-1-4555-4529-2
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Hardcover - 413 pages - 978-1-4104-6751-5
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Mass Market Paperbound - 362 pages - 978-1-4555-4527-8
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In MWA Grand Master Maron’s outstanding 19th mystery featuring judge Deborah Knott of North Carolina’s Colleton County (after 2012’s The Buzzard Table), Deborah’s elderly aunt, Rachel Morton, lies near death in a hospice. Rachel attracts a crowd of friends and relatives as she talks of “babies, fires, and unpaid debts, of someone who beat his wife and of cowbirds and vegetables and broken jars.” A distraction allows a killer enough time to slip into Rachel’s room and smother her with a pillow, thus ending her ramblings, which apparently concealed deadly secrets. Unraveling those secrets—some 60 years old—is a slow, difficult process with lots of suspects among friends and family. Maron achieves a delicate balance as she explores differences between mistakes, sins, and crimes, and shows that justice is not always arrived at by conventional means. Humor (e.g., Deborah outfoxes an unscrupulous auctioneer) and social issues (e.g., the difficult role of caregivers to the elderly) add to the warmth of a large family with all its foibles, squabbles, and quirks. Five-city author tour. Agent: Vicky Bijur, Vicky Bijur Literary. (Aug.)
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