First book by Margaret Maron that I have read, and the first book in the Deborah Knott series (not counting the prequel). "Bootlegger's Daughter" is the winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, & Macavity Awards. There are currently eleven books in the series (including a prequel to "Bootlegger's Daughter" titled "Bloody Kin" and a collection of short stories).
Deborah is a female lawyer in Colleton County, North Carolina who has decided to run in the current judicial election (and is the daughter of a noted ex-bootlegger). While Deborah is running for said election, she has also been asked by a young woman that she used to babysit, Gayle Whitehead, to look into the death of that woman's mother, Jane Whitehead, 18 years ago. Gayle is less concerned with who killed her mother than as to why she was killed (not that she wouldn't like to know the killer).
The book opens with baby Gayle and dead mother Jane being discovered in a old mill (May 1972). Then quickly jumps up to the "present time" of April 1990. At the very beginning of the book, I was concerned that I might not like the main character, and some of the plot points and dialogue that came up. As I read further, though, the book grew on me, and by the end, I rather liked the main character. The main character, and a few others, are fully developed personalities, though the lessor characters can seem a little thin. The plot is solid, the mystery is well-designed and plausible, and the setting is well developed. Overall, I would give the book 4.40 stars.
- Michael S. Briggs -