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Bootlegger's Daughter (Deborah Knott Mysteries #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  5,969 Ratings  ·  382 Reviews
This first novel in Maron's Imperfect series, which won the Edgar Award for best mystery novel in 1993, introduces heroine Deborah Knott, an attorney and the daughter of an infamous North Carolina bootlegger. Known for her knowledge of the region's past and popular with the locals, Deb is asked by 18-year-old Gayle Whitehead to investigate the unsolved murder of her mother ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 3rd printing edition, 261 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Grand Central Publishing (first published May 1st 1992)
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Mary Ronan Drew
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Bootlegger's Daughter was published in 1992 it won Dilys, Macavity, Anthony, and Edgar awards. That's an impressive record, so I borrowed the book from the library. I loved it, partly because it takes place in the area of North Carolina where I lived for some years and the author, who lives there also, has the local color perfect. Eating Carolina barbecue (with vinegar) and watching a Durham Bull's game on a warm summer evening, admiring the azaleas and dogwoods, big summer picnics with gue ...more
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
This was quite good for what it is. I enjoy mysteries, but they're not my absolute favorite relatively speaking (not their fault of course, but there are just so many books and so little time). Still, this was quite satisfying, and I can see why it swept the Mystery awards the year it came out.

The protagonist Deborah Knott has just enough moxy and sass to win your respect but also enough vulnerability and insecurity to keep her interesting. The other characters were also well-drawn and fun. Maro
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, knott
First book in Maron's series starring Deborah Knott, and set in eastern North Carolina farm country. The murder plot is actually almost a subset in the overall story of Knott's electoral race for District Judge.[return][return]Maron evokes what certainly appears to me (someone who has never spent any real time in North Carolina) both a sense of the place and a sense of the people. There are those of the "old" South--actively prejudied against blacks, from cops to judges and beyond--and then you ...more
Loved this book. Deborah Knott is running for District judge in a NC county. Daughter of the local bootlegger, she is well known in the community. When a girl she used to babsysit for asks her to look into her mother's death when she was a baby, she gets involved in very old secrets. The community flavor and characters are very believable and intersting. And I really like Deborah and wanted to cheer her on in the political race. This is a very good read and I cant beleive it took me so long to g ...more
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
Recommended to Carmen by: Library
A good mystery book. The first in the Deborah Knott series. A good look at the South. I like the main character. She is realistic and not too sexy. She is intelligent. The only problem I had with the book is that there are about a billion characters and it's really hard to keep them all straight. Surprise ending. Very well-written. Main themes: discrimination against homosexuals, discrimination against women, discrimination against African-Americans.
May 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criminal-mystery
I read this book because it was selected by my book club, though I'm still trying to figure out why they selected it. It is what you might call a cozy criminal mystery with an attorney playing private detective as a favor to someone she used to babysit for years ago. But I didn't find it too cozy a story with all the unlikable characters and their prejudices directed at people who were different from them in gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

This story takes place in North Carolina
I'd read this book soon after it first came out, but my memory was a bit hazy, and in any case my "rules" for the Edgar Best Novel project include re-reading the books I've already read. It was a real treat to re-read this one, especially after reading the "prequel" (actually a stand-alone) Bloody Kin. I knew , having kept up with Judge Deborah Knott, that her character had grown and changed a lot over the years, but reading this book reinforced how much that was true. Deborah is 34 in this book ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
There is a good writer within Margaret Maron. Her dialogue is solid, her characters are three-dimensional, and her settings are vividly described. Unfortunately, I felt that she wasted far too much time talking about North Carolina high society (same issue I had with New Orleans Mourning) and too little talking about the mystery, which became kind of obvious after awhile. I'm probably shorting this book a star to be spiteful but I wanted a solid murder mystery, not a romp through lifestyles of t ...more
Maron, Margaret - 1st in series

Deborah Knott is an attorney and the daughter of an infamous North Carolina bootlegger. Known for her knowledge of the region's past and popular with the locals, Deb is asked by 18-year-old Gayle Whitehead to investigate the unsolved murder of her mother Janie, who died when Gayle was an infant. While visiting the owner of the property where Janie's body was found, Deb learns of Janie's more-than-promiscuous past. Piecing together lost clu
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott books take me to home to North Carolina
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
Exceptionally well written mystery - defines the term 'page turner'. So happy there are more in the series!
Deborah Pickstone
A very good read, excellently constructed and with sharp characterisation all round!
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yay! I found another author that I absolutely love. Margaret Maron's character Deborah Knott is smart, funny and accomplished. It doesn't matter that she is the daughter of a bootlegger-she is going places. This book practically read itself-I am hooked and already have book #2 of this series on hold.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
This book has a compelling mystery, with lots of misdirection. It is the first book in the series, so we are just meeting this town and these people. I like the people. I like the place. I'll read more Margaret Maron.
Dennis Fischman
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Re-reading this book after many years for the Somerville Public Library's Mystery Book Club, I was struck by how Margaret Maron created a setting that was entirely real from the first page onward. The town and the county where attorney Deborah Knott lives are populated with her friends, foes, family, and connections through her profession and her politics, and you get a sense that the author didn't create them but discovered them, fully formed.

The mystery was a deeply sad reflection of its time,
Stef Rozitis
So I gave 5 stars to a detective story where the detective is a white, wealthy, heterosexual woman. I thought I would point that out in case my criticisms of some of the other stories I gave one or two stars to this year were wrongly taken as me not wanting to ever read about privileged characters. Far from it.

What set Deborah Knott apart from all the shallow chick-lit heroines of modern detective stories was a few things like her real and complex intelligence (not just puzzle solving skills but
Mary Newcomb
Feb 16, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Linda Kleiber
Thanks to my friend Linda, I have been introduced to Deborah Knott and her friends and family. She is an attorney in Colleton County, North Carolina aspiring to become a Judge. In the midst of the campaign she is asked to look into a mysterious death from 18 years ago. She does, indeed, solve it all. There are 19 more books in this series, I have some reading to do!
Randee Baty
This mystery has what many of the ones I've been reading lately have missed. Atmosphere, a mystery as the central part of the plot, and heart. Those things seem to be in short supply these days.

Deborah Knott is a southern attorney and decides that she wants to run for judge. Her father is the bootlegger in the title, obviously, which has interesting connotations for a law-and-order citizen like Deborah. A friend of Deborah's asks for Deborah's help to solve the 20 year old murder of the friend's
My first Margaret Maron mystery, and I loved it. Its a series set in North Carolina, with lots of "good old boys" and Southern sass, and a judge(Deborah Knott)that can keep up with all of them, smart, sassy, and strong. I'm reading the second book now, Southern Discomfort and enjoying it as much as the first book. Ms. Maron has a way with words, and a gifted storyteller.

From Amazon:
Deborah Knott was expected to be a conventional little girl and eventually a conventional woman, worshipped on a p
Jerry B
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Far more development than "Sigrid", classic Maron...

We have opined here and elsewhere that Margaret Maron is a fine enough writer to convey just about whatever mood, ideas, or setting she wishes. Despite that skill, her eight Sigrid Harald mysteries are a little dry -- skillful plots and good detective work seem to hold one's attention, but the entertainment factor is a little low. All that goes away with the 1992 debut of rural North Carolina's attorney (and judge wannabe) Deborah Knott. From
Jean Poulos
This is book one in a series about attorney Deborah Knott, the daughter of an infamous North Carolina bootlegger. The book is supposed to mix a murder mystery and Southern politics together in a story. Knott is campaigning for a district court judgeship when an eighteen year old girl asks her to investigate the unsolved murder of her mother. This is a cold case as the murder took place about seventeen years ago. I learned a new expression in this story. The author used the term “yellow dog democ ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, rb-digital
interesting 1st book in the series ~ a Southern spin on a female sleuth tale.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
A blurb inside by mystery writer Loren Estelman compared Maron to Flannery O'Connor, Hemingway and Faulkner. Another described the protagonist and first person narrator, Dorothy Knott, as Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird, all grown up. I don't think this book is in that league at all.

Yes, this is set in the American South, in North Carolina, and the author is good at choosing and using details to evoke that setting and in reproducing the rhythms of speech of that region. But all in all I'd say th
North Carolina in the 1970s still had strained relationships between black and whites. Opinions about gay lifestyles weren't something that was spoken about.

In 1977, two workingmen find the body of a murdered woman and her small child, who was still alive.

In 1990, defense attorney, Deborah Knott, sees legal injustice by a judge in his courtroom. His prejudice against blacks was so obvious that Deborah decided to run against the judge in the upcoming elections.

Jed Whitehead is a childhood friend
Nov 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book we read in our Mystery Book Club. We got to speak to Margaret Maron on the speaker phone. It made the book more interesting learning some of the thought behind it. I didn't love the book. Maybe it is because I lived in Eastern NC where the book takes place. But much of it seems authentic. I just thought there were too many controversial sub-plots. If you put so many things in it, everyone will like something. But I wil try another of the Deborah Knott books.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like a taste of Southern fiction into your mystery series, you'll enjoy the first of Deborah Knott books, the Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron. This starts off with Deborah Knott running for office as a judge, when Gayle Whitehead asks her to look into the cold case murder of her mother. And when she does, it turns out a lot of heat by unearthing secrets and possible damaging her campaign for judge. Great twits and turns to the very end, this is a delightful new mystery series.
Lin Stepp
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have not discovered Margaret Maron's mystery series about Deborah Knott, a judge in a small North Carolina town, then run out and get this first book in the series. I have read it and all the others in the series and all are truly wonderful and entertaining. Deborah's setting, her big family of brothers, and all her kin folks and small town friends will come alive for you ... and her mystery line will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Kevin Kern
I read this book 20 years ago and enjoyed it as much this time, as then. The characters are well drawn and fun. The landscape catches you and you feel the weather. Maron is a great mystery writer and a fun, quick read. I am going to re-read the whole series, interspersed with other books. I probably only read up to #8, maybe 10, before. Thank you, my OCD reader friend, for making me start again.
After reading this first-in-a-series mystery by Margaret Maron, I'm a new fan. Set in North Carolina and featuring spunky attorney and wanna-be district judge Deborah Knott, the story about her search for the solution to a 20 year old murder of a woman she once babysat for is a good one, filled with wit as well as interesting characters. It was a fun way to spend a few hours of reading.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. More like 2.5 stars. I just wasn't that into it. Thought the main character was kinda dull and that the author tried too hard to inject Southern cham into the writing. However the resolution of the mystery was more complex than I had suspected.
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Born and raised in central North Carolina, Margaret Maron lived in Italy before returning to the USA where she and her husband now live. In addition to a collection of short stories she's also the author of 16 mystery novels. Her works have been translated into seven languages her Bootlegger's Daughter, a Washington Post Bestseller won Edgar Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity awards. She is a past pres ...more
More about Margaret Maron

Other books in the series

Deborah Knott Mysteries (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • Southern Discomfort (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #2)
  • Shooting at Loons (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #3)
  • Up Jumps the Devil (Deborah Knott Mystery, #4)
  • Killer Market (Deborah Knott Mysteries #5)
  • Home Fires (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #6)
  • Storm Track (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #7)
  • Uncommon Clay (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #8)
  • Slow Dollar (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #9)
  • High Country Fall (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #10)
  • Rituals of the Season (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #11)

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“Every time we start thinking we're the center of the universe, the universe turns around and says with a slightly distracted air, 'I'm sorry. What'd you say your name was again?” 31 likes
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