Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Hard Row by Margaret Maron

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Hard Row by Margaret Maron. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Hard Row by Margaret Maron

Hard Row by
A Deborah Knott Mystery

Grand Central (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-446-58243-3 (0446582433)
ISBN-13: 978-0-446-58243-8 (9780446582438)
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $24.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): As Judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. Soon after, a farmer known for his harsh treatment of migrant workers is found brutally murdered. The search for the killer leads Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the desperate realm of undocumented farm laborers who are exploited for cheap labor. In the meantime, Deborah and Dwight must continue adjusting to married life and having Dwight's eight-year-old-son, Cal, live with them full-time. As the case expands to multiple murders, Deborah and Dwight discover dark truths that threaten to permanently alter the serenity of their rural surroundings and new life together.

Review: Margaret Maron's 13th Deborah Knott mystery, Hard Row, is a potpourri of well-written and well-crafted stories that blend together into a singularly satisfying crime novel.

Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff Deputy Dwight Bryant, have taken in Dwight’s young son, Cal, who, because of the untimely death of his mother, has come to live with them full time. In and of itself, this tale of a new family is a wonderfully told story. But then reality (as it were) intrudes when a dismembered body is found. There is no shortage of suspects and complicating matters are the large number of undocumented workers in the area. Deborah and Dwight each pursue their respective jobs, in the courtroom and at the police station. There are also several subplots: a rich landowner who is in the throes of a very hostile divorce, a family who finds out their daughter is dating a Mexican lad, and an elderly gentleman who disappears from a local nursing home. It’s a true measure of Maron's talent how a few complete and really excellent storylines can come together and be a part of the resolution to the mystery behind the murder, withholding the identity of the killer until the surprising conclusion.

Life on the farm, life in the city, and life at home are all part of Hard Row. There's even a bit of humor as the author delves into the lives of Deborah's eleven (11!) older brothers and the families.

Hard Row is an exceptional mystery, an amazing book of family, friends, laughter, crime, and punishment. And it all fits together like a comfortable, well worn, and much appreciated pair of suede gloves.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Hard Row and to Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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