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Featured Series and Cozies > Deborah Knott Mysteries by Margaret Maron

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message 1: by Nell (last edited Mar 06, 2021 04:54AM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
This month's featured series: the Deborah Knott Mysteries by Margaret Maron. The first in the series is Bootlegger's Daughter

Bootlegger's Daughter (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #1) by Margaret Maron

This thread is for discussing any of the books in the Deborah Knott series. Please say which book you are talking about and remember to mark spoilers.

Southern Discomfort (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #2) by Margaret Maron Shooting at Loons (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #3) by Margaret Maron Up Jumps the Devil (Deborah Knott Mystery, #4) by Margaret Maron Killer Market (Deborah Knott Mysteries #5) by Margaret Maron Home Fires (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #6) by Margaret Maron Storm Track (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #7) by Margaret Maron Uncommon Clay (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #8) by Margaret Maron Slow Dollar (Deborah Knott Mysteries #9) by Margaret Maron High Country Fall (Deborah Knott Mysteries #10) by Margaret Maron Rituals of the Season (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #11) by Margaret Maron Winter's Child (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #12) by Margaret Maron Hard Row (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #13) by Margaret Maron Death's Half Acre (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #14) by Margaret Maron Sand Sharks (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #15) by Margaret Maron Christmas Mourning (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #16) by Margaret Maron Three-Day Town (Deborah Knott Mysteries #17; Sigrid Harald #9) by Margaret Maron The Buzzard Table (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #18) by Margaret Maron

Margaret Maron will join us later in the month to answer readers' questions.


message 2: by jaxnsmom (new)

jaxnsmom | 2397 comments Mod
I found these questions on Ms Maron's website - http://margaretmaron.com/deborah/

DISCUSSION POINTS
1. What roles do Deborah’s internal Preacher and Pragmatist play? Why does she think of them as male?
2. How does the Knott clan contrast with the Vickerys?
3. Running for a local office means going out and meeting voters one on one. How would you handle being questioned about your religion or your views on alcohol?
4. Since the book also focuses on grassroots politics, in light of the last election, just how much attention did you give to any of the judicial candidates? Especially now that more and more judges run as "nonpartisan" candidates. Did you check to see what their previous party affiliations were?
5. What role does religion play in this book?
6. What are the family values?
7. There seem to be many secrets in this story, especially about sexual/romantic relationships. Why is that?
8. Do you think this book accurately reflects Southern culture?


message 3: by Nell (last edited Sep 09, 2013 01:21PM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
It's been about 10 years since I read Bootlegger's Daughter. I found a copy and will reread it this month. I don't remember enough details to answer questions (like #2, 5 & 7) specific to that book.

Q.1 - I hadn't noticed that the two voices are male. There are a lot of male influences in Deborah's life. She is the youngest and only daughter with 11 older brothers. Her father is a strong influence in her life; her mother died when she was a teenager. The voices she hears offering advice (often unsolicited) are male, except for an aunt.


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3 comments Deborah hears The Preacher and The Pragmatist. Don't we all!


message 5: by Nell (last edited Sep 07, 2013 08:29AM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Margaret Maron will answer questions on Sept 15th and again on September 29th. Please posts questions or comments. She will be looking in on the discussion throughout the month.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3 comments Nell,

Is there a specific time when Ms Maron will be posting?


message 7: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) I love this series and I find the interaction between Deborah and her family totally realistic (not that I have 11 brothers, but I did have a much older father and my family was from Texas). In fact, I often miss visiting with Deborah and her family. I had read the first book many years ago and then apparently I had stopped reading mysteries and so missed all the rest of the books. Imagine my happiness when I realized that I had all the books to look forward to! I have now collected all of the books in the series except Buzzard Table which I am holding out to read in paperback (if I can wait that long).

On a topic not mentioned in the questions, I also find the law practice and judge job in the books to be spot on. I am an attorney in California and I have been to the local and state bar association meetings (Sand Sharks is one of my favorites in the series). Sat around some in the courtrooms (tried to avoid criminal law) and met more attorneys and judges than I can count. The author gets this so right! I often wonder if she was an attorney at some point in her life (although this is not mentioned in her bio).


message 8: by Donna (last edited Sep 07, 2013 05:38PM) (new)

Donna Swanson | 21 comments 5. What role does religion play in this book?
This question interests me because I am a former chaplain, with an MDiv degree.
I think the answer would be different for each character, and different as part of the setting and part of the plot progress.
In Deborah's family, religion plays a gathering function-Sundays and religious occasions like funerals involve family meals, and there are tensions between roles in the family and self-definition.
For Deborah herself, religion is always in some conflict with family loyalty, and professional identity is often in conflict with family loyalty, because as the title says, she is a bootlegger's daughter as well as a lawyer and a member of a church.
I love the pragmatism and complexity Deborah's life experience brings to her reasoning, personal and legal.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3 comments jaxnsmom wrote: "I found these questions on Ms Maron's website - http://margaretmaron.com/deborah/

DISCUSSION POINTS
1. What roles do Deborah’s internal Preacher and Pragmatist play? Why does she think of them as ..."


jaxnsmom wrote: "I found these questions on Ms Maron's website - http://margaretmaron.com/deborah/

DISCUSSION POINTS
1. What roles do Deborah’s internal Preacher and Pragmatist play? Why does she think of them as ..."


I don't hear male voices for these internal conversations - I hear Deborah's voice, telling her what should be and pragmatist agreeing with her on how it will be.


message 10: by Patty (new)

Patty Warren | 1 comments I had a good friend recommend Margaret Maron's "Bootlegger Daughter" to me about 15 years ago. Being a North Carolinian living on Florida at the time, I loved this series! I guess Deborah Knott and I have grown older together. Her family feels and reads like my family. You have to like her and want her to succeed on life and love. She's like a special sister or cousin. I quickly read all the books in this series that were out at the time and have anxiously waited for new ones! Can't wait to see what is next for Judge Knott!


message 11: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) One question I have always had for the author is whether she knew from the beginning that Deborah and Dwight were meant to be together. If not, when did she realize that they would end up together?


message 12: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments To answer some of the questions you've posed, no I have no law training, but I was lucky enough to meet 3 district court judges who read the finished manuscript and then tell me what I got wrong. They also answer legal questions that pop up when I'm writing. I don't think I could have written these books without them.

Did I plan for Dwight and Deborah to wind up together from the beginning? Absolutely not. It puzzled me when readers started asking when they were going to realize they weren't brother and sister? Huh? After about the 30th letter on the subject, I went back and reread their scenes together and to my total surprise I realized that Dwight knew, but that Deborah didn't have a clue. And for what it's worth, I created Dwight several years before Deborah. He was the deputy sheriff in Bloody Kin, which came out 7 years before Bootlegger's Daughter. I love it when I catch my unconscious off-guard.


message 13: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) Thanks, Margaret!


message 14: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Rose (httpbitly1ax8ln0) | 24 comments Thanks for the insight. I, too, wondered when the two of them would realize that they weren't related.


message 15: by Nell (last edited Sep 09, 2013 01:22PM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Nell,

Is there a specific time when Ms Maron will be posting?"


No. Margaret Maron is checking in on the discussion periodically. Her posting at Message 12 is a bonus!

Margaret is attending and on a panel at Bouchercon, one of the major mystery book conferences the 3rd weekend in Sept so I don't expect to hear from her during that time.


message 16: by Kay Webb (new)

Kay Webb (kaywebb) | 12 comments Kay wrote: "One question I have always had for the author is whether she knew from the beginning that Deborah and Dwight were meant to be together. If not, when did she realize that they would end up together?"

What an insightful question, Kay!

Margaret, thanks so much for your answer. That process is part of what makes your characters so true-to-life.

Kay


message 17: by Nell (last edited Sep 09, 2013 11:50AM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Deborah is the youngest of 12 children with 11 older brothers. Around the 4th book, I started a list of her siblings, who they were married to, birth order, etc. on a large post-it note that I stuck on the inside cover and moved from book to book. The more recent books began including a family tree on a fly page. There's also a link on the author's website - something I recently discovered though it may have been there all along!

Here's a link from the author's website to Deborah's family tree:

http://www.margaretmaron.com/files/57...


message 18: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) Oh, I couldn't do it without the family tree! Ha! I especially like that some families are listed as "at least three" kids. Makes me wonder who made up the family tree for publication in the books.

I also really find the relationship between Deborah and siblings realistic. My brother was 18 years old when I was born and we were never real close just like Deborah and some of the oldest brothers. My brother was already out of the house when I was growing up. Yet, Deborah's brother Seth is the one she is closest to even though there is a big gap in their ages.


message 19: by Nell (last edited Sep 09, 2013 01:19PM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Kay wrote: "One question I have always had for the author is whether she knew from the beginning that Deborah and Dwight were meant to be together. If not, when did she realize that they would end up together?"

How their relationship developed delighted me. I was clueless too! In retrospect, I see that Dwight disliked every man that Deborah was involved with in the earlier books. His joy and her slow realization, occurring in a book where Dwight is barely 'present', were wonderful.


message 20: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments Thank you, for message 19, Kay. It was fun to write. As for the vagueness of the family tree (#18), I still haven't met some of the kids. But I drew up that family tree early and figured they'd eventually work their way in if they were important. It was pure serendipity though when I was working on SLOW DOLLAR. Not to give a spoiler, I discovered that, unbeknownst to me, a major character was already there on the family tree. Can't tell you how much that delighted me.


message 21: by Anne (new)

Anne Pichette | 146 comments I really enjoyed this book, I read it several of months ago. I am not from the south but I enjoy reading about and the family dynamics in the book are very interesting and real.


message 22: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) Margaret, I love Andrew and his family! One of my favorite brothers - Ha! The vagueness of the family tree is sort of endearing. Clearly Deborah, and the reader, are not as familiar with some brothers families as others.


message 23: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #22 - Kay, I agree about poor Andrew, who got a lot of pages in SLOW DOLLAR, which was one of my favorite books to write. I'm thinking of writing my next book with flashbacks to when Deborah's mother entered his life and how she eventually won him over. He was old enough to remember his own mother and to resent a replacement.


message 24: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) #23, Thanks Margaret. Oooh! I would like to read more about Deborah's mother and all those sons. She sure was a brave lady.

One of the things I love about this series (and all of you just starting on the series have this to look forward to!) is the attention to detail and immersion in the location of each book. I am not really sure how the author does this, but you can just see the home place and small town where Deborah lives. Then some of my favorites are the books not located at home. For example, in Shooting at Loons I was totally involved in the plight of the small fishermen, the unpopular (and smelly) menhaden plant, the poachers, and developers. Just like the furniture mart in Killer Market, the pottery in Uncommon Clay, each one of these settings make me want to pack up and head for North Carolina!

Question for Margaret: how do you discover and research these special places or industries? Do you visit the locations?


message 25: by Nell (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
In contrast to Kay, my favorite books are the ones set in Colleton County. Sometimes Deborah's judicial duties have the books set in other areas. While I learn about another area of the state (like in High Country Fall), I miss Kezzie and her brothers.

As for vivid descriptions, I've gone back in time to read the prequel, Bloody Kin. I could almost taste the scuppernongs described in the first chapter.


message 26: by Nikki (new)

Nikki (withererose) I really enjoyed the first book, I wish I had found out about this series sooner so I could be more caught up for the discussion :( lol I really enjoyed the characters and story will definitely be reading more :) Great piece of literature.


message 27: by Nell (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Nikki wrote: "I really enjoyed the first book, I wish I had found out about this series sooner so I could be more caught up for the discussion :( lol I really enjoyed the characters and story will definitely be ..."

So glad you discovered the series. You have some good reads to look forward to!


message 28: by Nell (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Finished Bloody Kin this weekend. Set in NC before the Deborah Knott series begins, it introduces Dwight Bryant, his mother Emily and his brother Rob. Even with a critical piece of info from reading several of the Deborah Knott series, I fell for the red herring and the twist at the end took me by surprise. Well done!

Bloody Kin by Margaret Maron


message 29: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #23, Kay, my interest gets snagged by something happening in a particular area. So I send Deborah to hold court there and then just wait to see what issues arise --issues that usually result in murder. And yes, I do go to the area and immerse myself in it. I also read the local papers, which can again lead me to a deeper understanding. But Deborah goes to these different places as I go to them: as a stranger who hopes to understand.


message 30: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #25, Nell, I miss them, too, when I take her out of her comfort zone, but that's life. (And scuppernongs are just starting to ripen here!)


message 31: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #26 - Thank you, Nikki! I'm always pleased by new readers.


message 32: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #28 - Nell, this was the first time I'd set a book in NC. My then-agent came down, took a look at "Colleton County" and said, "Why in God's name do you want to set a book here? It's bad enough you have to live here." When I bleated that it was home, he said, "Well, go ahead and get it out of your system."
So I wrote it and thought it WAS out of my system. Ha! Five more books set in NYC followed, but I kept wanting to write about my little piece of dirt. BUZZARD TABLE was the 20th book set in NC!


message 33: by Kay Webb (new)

Kay Webb (kaywebb) | 12 comments Margaret wrote: "#28 - Nell, this was the first time I'd set a book in NC. My then-agent came down, took a look at "Colleton County" and said, "Why in God's name do you want to set a book here? It's bad enough you ..."

I hope that you have a more prescient agent now.
Kay [in VA]


message 34: by jaxnsmom (new)

jaxnsmom | 2397 comments Mod
I've read several books in this series, but after reading this one, I realized that I had somehow missed reading it before. I'm so glad it was picked this month.

Margaret - I love how you write about the area you live in, and are able to bring it to life, but how much of the people you know is translated into your characters? Have you channeled part of yourself into Deborah, or any other character?


message 35: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #34 - Thank you, Jaxnsmom. I do use aspects of the people I grew up with and who still abound. Deborah and I both grew up on a working tobacco farm, so I do channel some of that. But she's younger, more in tune with the non-agricultural aspects of the area, so I also rely on the next generation to keep me up to speed.


message 36: by Nell (last edited Sep 17, 2013 05:36AM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
I started re-reading Bootlegger's Daughter yesterday and I noticed that you name the chapters in this book after country songs. I don't remember your doing that in any other books. This is the first in the Deborah Knott series. Is that something you were trying out?

Did you think it was a distraction?I find myself trying to relate the chapter title to what is happening at that point in the story.


message 37: by Nell (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "To answer some of the questions you've posed, no I have no law training, but I was lucky enough to meet 3 district court judges who read the finished manuscript and then tell me what I got wrong. T..."

I'm surprised that you have no legal training. My first job after law school was as a judicial law clerk in a federal trial court. The scenes where Deborah presides in court accurately reflect the complexity when you apply the law to real situations. Deborah often isn't sure that she has made the 'right' decisions. She tries to be fair.


message 38: by Granny (new)

Granny I have read and enjoyed all of the Deborah Knott books, and I really do understand that she and MM both need a change of location from time to time, but I do enjoy best the books set in Colleton County because Deborah is a different person when she interacts with her family.


message 39: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #36 - Nell, I really wanted to use both the song title and the singer who best covered it, but the publishers were afraid it might be a copyright infringement, so I let it pass. Those songs did echo what was happening in each chapter just as do the quotes I now use.

#38, Thanks, "Granny." I do like the balance, too.


message 40: by Nell (last edited Sep 21, 2013 05:46AM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "#36 - Nell, I really wanted to use both the song title and the singer who best covered it,... Those songs did echo what was happening in each chapter just as do the quotes I now use...."

As I'm reading, I find myself going back at the end of each chapter to read it's title and see how it related to what happened. And I admit that I flipped through and read all of the chapter titles. It's been so long since I read Bootlegger's Daughter (over 10 years) that I can't remember details of the mystery. It's new all over again.

I read the prequel, Bloody Kin, last week. You don't use chapter titles in that one. After reading your response, I pulled a more recent book off my shelf and noticed the quotes you referred to.


message 41: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments #40, After my troubles with overly-copyrighted songs, Nell, I began looking for out-of-copyright books from which I could take my chapter captions. Happily, two modern writers gave me liberal permission to quote from their books when I wrote Uncommon Clay:
Nancy Sweezy for Raised in Clay: The Southern Pottery Tradition; and Charles G. Zug III for Turners and Burners: The Folk Pottery of North Carolina. Both are interesting factual books.


message 42: by Nell (last edited Sep 25, 2013 05:09AM) (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
(from Message 2)
8. Do you think this book accurately reflects Southern culture?
My answer to this question is a resounding YES.
That's my short answer. Here's my sort of long answer:

One of the things I really appreciate about the Deborah Knott series is the way Margaret Maron handles the complexity of Southern culture and incorporates it into the story: The hospitality; the manners; living in a small town where everyone knows who your people are; the changes in social roles; the gender, race and class dynamics; the encroachment of cities into rural areas and farm lands; the changing demographics, even the weather. Sometimes as undercurrents and sometimes as integral parts of the story like in Home Fires (church burnings), Storm Track (hurricane) and Hard Row (migrant workers).

In Southern culture, storytelling is an art and a well-told tale something to relish.


message 43: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) Last year I picked up The Three Day Town and realized that I had not read any of the earlier books in the series, except perhaps the first one. From the beginning of that book I was captured by the relationship between Dwight and Deborah. I eagerly went on a book buying (and searching) spree for the entire series and have read all of them in the last year or so.

I settled comfortably into the Knott family and Colleton county. I loved it, and felt that the family and the location were so well written that I was just there. I did not read them in order, usually wanting to read the new acquisition too much to wait until I had all of them. I felt that each book stood pretty much on its own with enough detail about the setting and characters that one really "got" them even though it was, e.g., the next-to-last in the series.

A random list of things I love: the dirt roads that cross the Knott family farm, the pond outside of Deborah's house where everyone gathers to swim in the summer, the passle of nephews and nieces, taking casseroles to funerals or to the home of the bereaved, chickens in the backyard vs. fancy dogs, picking up trash at the side of the road as a family project. "Home" churches vs. visiting churches of different constituents or family members and how the churches are different.


message 44: by Kay (new)

Kay (kayellen) Re #42 and southern culture: My father came from a large family with a farming background in Oklahoma and Texas, so the Knott family really resonated with me. I recognized the way they talk, the names they have for each other, that Kezzie Knott likes to walk around the land even though he is not as active in farming it.

I also appreciated the Southern setting, despite not having any connection (other than visiting) with the rural Southeast (Texas does consider itself a separate "south"). But, in the midst of my reading orgy we visited Lexington, Kentucky, and I was able to see first hand the encroachment of cities into rural areas and farmlands, the changing demographics, the class dynamics. I felt that the Deborah Knott series was a guide book for many of the social issues we encountered there in Kentucky.

For example, there is a crossing near the home place that plays a part in several of the books. At one point there is a convenience store or strip mall being built there which Deborah deplores. In another book after the store is built, she admits that being able to stop and grab something that close to home is handy. There are no easy answers to many of these issues.

One question for the author: How do you figure out the timing of a book - how long has elapsed since the last book? Whether the books are happening "now" (i.e., 2013) or in some past or future or not defined year?


message 45: by Melodie (new)

Melodie (melodieco) | 653 comments I have never picked up this series, but need to. My family is almost all in the south, KY, TN and AL. My folks don't live far from Lexington, Kay. Think I'll hit PBS this afternoon and see what I can find.


message 46: by Judith (new)

Judith | 20 comments I read Maron's first series about Sigrid, the policeman in New York and liked it so much I moved on to the Deborah Knott series when I realized she wrote that, too. I am also something of a stickler about reading a series in order but I did read Three Day Town out of order because it was in NY and brought the 2 main characters together. I am at last at The Buzzard's Table but am sort of saving it. I have enjoyed each book - the plots, the stories, the characters, the changing landscape, the family relationships, the mystery and the legal decisions - also the change in venue. It is just an enjoyable series.


message 47: by Nell (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
Finished re-reading Bootlegger's Daughter last night. This time I paid particular attention to the interactions between Deborah and Dwight.

Both times I read this mystery, I noticed that the two persons who actually discovered the body in 1972 were never named. They are referred to as the black laborers and Michael Vickery refers to them as "black boys" though both were adults. Deborah doesn't try to find or talk to them. That seemed odd since she interviewed everyone else involved (except the witness who died).

This book is titled "Bootlegger's Daughter" and Deborah's father is a key character but he doesn't appear until more than halfway through the book. His influence is felt much earlier in the story and is key to Deborah's judicial aspirations.


message 48: by Nell (new)

Nell | 2571 comments Mod
From Message 2
Question 7. There seem to be many secrets in this story, especially about sexual/romantic relationships. Why is that?
The secrets are primarily about same-sex relationships and/or extra-marital affairs that were against the socially accepted behavior in the community.

I had forgotten how much sexual relationships played a role in this mystery. Turns out there were a lot of secrets being kept and threats of exposure that led to murder.


message 49: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 11 comments I have so much enjoyed reading all the comments you all have posted this month. Thanks for my warm welcome and for trying my books. Should you have further questions or comments, you can reach me through Facebook or my website: www.MargaretMaron.com. Maybe sign up for my very sporadic newsletter?

Happy reading!


message 50: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jhaltenburger) | 495 comments LOVE this series. Every time I drive north on I-95 i feel like getting off the highway in colleton county and hunting some folks down for a cuppa.... :)


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