I love Margaret Maron and I love Deborah Knott. Maron knows Deborah intimately and refuses to let her do anything in a book that would be out of character, even if it would serve the mystery that needs to be solved.
I’m thinking of an earlier book when Deborah went into an empty house alone. It’s the moment that usually makes me toss a book across the room. No sane person would do that.
Unless … a child is missing and she hears a child crying inside. Then, like Deborah, a sane person pulls up her courage, grabs her cell phone, and walks through the door.
Each Deborah Knott book also focuses on a current topic (land development, illegal immigration, migrant workers) and Maron weaves the issue into the story without soapboxing.
In Christmas Mourning, Deborah and Dwight are soon going to celebrate their one year anniversary. Dwight’s son Cal is now living with them and adjusting well.
There have been a rash of teenage driving accidents, leaving several teens dead or permanently injured. Maron addresses texting while driving, underage drinking, and drinking and driving.
Mallory Johnson is the latest teenager to die in an accident. Dwight is investigating the solo accident. Tests show Mallory had a bit of alcohol in her system when she died but everyone swears Mallory wasn’t a drinker. Her father had trained her not to swerve for an animal in the roadway. So what caused her to crash?
Deborah’s relationships with her nieces and nephews often play a part of the books and Christmas Mourning is full of the teenagers, running in and out of the house, baking cookies, wiring up lights. I’m always thankful that Maron includes a Knott family tree because it’s easy to lose track of the large family. And it shows that Deborah has brothers and kin that we’ve yet to meet, assuring me of some great books in the future.
The mystery is Christmas Mourning is well set up. The clues are there. I often figure out the culprit before the halfway point of most mysteries. In this one, I knew it was one of two people and I wasn’t completely sure which one was the killer until Maron revealed it at the end.
If you haven’t read any of Deborah Knott’s stories, I encourage you to start with Bootlegger’s Daughter. It’s the perfect setup for the whole series. And Christmas Mourning is a stellar entry.