When Judge Deborah Knott travels to Wrightsville Beach for a summer conference for North Carolina District Court Judges, she stumbles upon the body of one of her colleagues. Meanwhile, Deborah's husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, is in Virginia with his son, tying up loose ends left by the death of his first wife. When another judge is found murdered at the conference, it soon becomes evident that Deborah may be the killer's next target. Her relaxing trip to the seaside soon transforms into a harrowing experience, and she must summon all of her strength and investigative expertise to track down the culprit before she becomes the next victim.
Discovering a murdered colleague isn't quite the adventure Deborah Knott anticipated during her getaway/conference in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., but as fans of Maron's Edgar- and Anthony-winning series know, trouble seems to cling to her like cornmeal on hush puppies. Her 15th outing (after 2008's Death's Half Acre) finds the feisty judge agreeing to aid local investigators with discreet inquiries among her fellow conventioneers. She quickly encounters plenty of folks none too distressed by the victim's demise, including one of her own exes, and escalating danger. Unfortunately, as the pace quickens the plot starts to fall apart, culminating in a pell-mell scramble to a rather unconvincing denouement. On the plus side, Maron's homespun evocation of people and place is typically pitch-perfect, her use of the judicial milieu skillful-and her engaging heroine as welcome a companion as you could wish for under a beach umbrella. (Aug.)
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Grand Central Publishing
August 11, 2009
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