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Southern Discomfort (A Deborah Knott Mystery Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Margaret Maron
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Deborah Knott may have lost the district election, but a bigoted judge's sudden death--and some old-fashioned political horse trading--have won her a governor's appointment. True to Southern form, her swearing-in is followed by a raucous reception that brings out every elderly aunt and cousin in the county.

Unfortunately, Lu Bingham, the force behind WomenAid, is at the reception, too. Not only has she come to collect the leftovers for her daycare center, but she's also there to collect on one of Deborah's more extravagant campaign promises. Before Deborah can say, "If elected..." she is committed to putting her muscle where her mouth was, spending weekends with an all-woman crew as the group attempts to build its first house for a needy single mom.

Old stereotypes die hard. Herman Knott, one of Deborah's numerous brothers, has to be hectored and cajoled before he'll give reluctant permission for his daughter and novice electrician Annie Sue to wire the house. Nor does it help that the county building inspector is a swaggering chauvinist nit-picker who's more interested in scoring with the young women than scoring their work.

Chaos erupts before the house is even half-finished. On the same rainy summer night that Herman collapses on the side of the road from an apparent heart attack, Annie Sue is found battered and half-naked in the deserted structure. Has she been raped? Who left her in that condition? And whose blood is that on Deborah's own hammer?

Dwight Bryant, an old childhood friend (and a bit of a good ol' boy), is a modern and efficient police detective, but it is Deborah who must judge whether dark secrets in her own family have led to murder. And if so, reveal the darker more troubling reasons why.

(Cover design by Paper Moon Graphics)


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 367 KB
  • Print Length: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Maron and Company; Ebook edition (30 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008RM5DN2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #439,237 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The changing North Carolina landscape provides a setting for murder in Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series. Southern Discomfort brings Deborah back for her second appearance after being introduced in Bootlegger's Daughter where she balances roles as lawyer/daughter/sister/aunt/ and now judge as she struggles to address issues like overdevelopment in her much loved home. Backyard barbecues, church, home, and family--the backbone of Southern culture--provide the backdrop for another haunting tale. As Bootlegger's Daughter closes Deborah has become a district judge and in Southern Discomfort she is delivering on a commitment to provide housing for battered women. After her niece is assaulted at a building site her attacker is murdered, and Deborah finds herself investigating murder in the family when her niece becomes the murder suspect. Maron's plot device of "prgamatist" v. "preacher," her personal chatterbox, is delightful as she struggles to explore both sides of issues, an important characteristic for a judge. When Maron began the Deborah Knott series after a long career with Sigrid Harald in New York, she emerged from a good writer to a great one, as demonstrated in Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar awards for Bootlegger's Daughter. Maron has borrowed from her Southern roots to create a strong woman of the South in a giant of a mystery. The mystery as morality play, the struggle between good and evil, is nowhere better played than in America's genteel South.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Deborah Knott has just assumed the district judgeship that was vacated when Perry Byrd died. We see Deborah from two sides: first as the consummate professional who is politically astute and knows exactly how to play the game to get reelected and secondly as a young woman who does exactly what she wants without worrying about the consequences.
Deborah's brother, Herman, has a daughter, AnnieSue, who is apprenticing as an electrical contractor. Deborah and Annie Sue volunteer to help build a home for a poor family. One evening when Annie Sue is working at the site alone, she is attacked by Carver Bannerman, a local no-good who is running around on his pregnant wife and also recently appeared in Deborah's courtroom. Before Carver can rape Annie Sue, he is murdered. When traces of arsenic are found in his blood and Annie Sue's father almost dies of arsenic poisoning, Annie Sue become a prime suspect.

Maron is an expert at building a plot, planting clues all along the way until you are sure you know who did it and then revealing the killer to be someone else who is absolutely the only person could have done it all along. At the same time, she builds sympathy for the character.

The only thing I did not like was a device that Maron used where Deborah has 2 inner voices that speak to her: a "pragmatist" and a "preacher". These 2 voices comment at various points in the story, and I found the interruption in the narrative flow irritating.

Maron is a very talented writer, and her characters stay with you because they are so real. Although this book was not as good as BOOTLEGGER'S DAUGHTER, Maron paints the North Carolina setting, its flora and fauna, perfectly. She recreates the southern idiom with flair.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Southern Discomfort 22 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Margaret Maron has long been one of my favourite mystery writers and Deborah Knott a favourite character - even if Margaret Maron gives her rather too many brothers. My paperbacks are falling to bits, so I hope to be able to replace them all on Kindle. In this book, the solution to the mystery is decidedly uncomfortable
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER GOOD ONE BY MARGATET MARON!!!! 5 Mar. 2001
By Mac Blair - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the second book in the Deborah Knott Series. In this one Deborah is sworn in as Judge. She is asked to help in building a house for battered women. It is being build by all women workers. Later she finds her niece in the house, beaten up and maybe a rape attempt. The young man who did this is found dead at the scene. Deborah has picked up the hammer used in the killing and therefore could be a suspect. As the story unwinds, her brother is in hopital from arsenic poisoning and the young man who was killed also had arsenic in his blood. The ending is a surprise but very good. I could see the town and the people in my mind as the story progressed. As very good book with what I would call a light mystery. If you want horror and gore, try Patricia Cornwell or John Sandford. I can relate to the family ties that are in the book. Just all around very good.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars awesome settings and dialogue, a little light on mystery 27 May 2002
By Jerry Bull - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you've read Ms. Maron's 8-book Sigrid Harald series, you might well wonder if this is indeed the same author who has now given us (a coincidence?) 8 more in the Judge Deborah Knott collection. Sigrid is a straight-laced NYC detective whose psyche just starts to unfold by the end of the set. The stories focus on the crime (usually a murder in chapter one) and the police procedures involved in catching the crook. Little is done to reveal the characters, provide setting changes, etc., a technique we've referred to before as "minimalist".
Enter Ms. Knott -- in Southern Discomfort, the second book of the set, it's a third of the book before anything really wrong happens. Even then, the crime and the perpetrator are uncovered almost more through circumstance than direct intent. Rather, we have a rich fabric of family relationships, single woman issues, feminist issues, mild religious and race issues, interwoven with light suspense over what happened and "whodunit". Along the way, we get a sampling of the court cases Knott is hearing as the newest District Court Judge. Here again, much is revealed of her character and philosophy through what she says and thinks while handling her judgments and sentencings. Moreover, many of Maron's readers report finding her descriptions of rural North Carolina as outright travelogues, superior to books written with that intent.
We've always thought Maron to be a talented and gifted writer, and her hand is revealed to a tee so far in these two books about Knott. For our taste, a little more plot complexity (actually, maybe intensity is a better word) and a little less "down home" chit chat amongst the family would move these right up to the 5-star class! Meanwhile, we're on to #3...
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Southern family life provides a backdrop for murder. 28 Mar. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The changing North Carolina landscape provides a setting for murder in Margaret Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series. Southern Discomfort brings Deborah back for her second appearance after being introduced in Bootlegger's Daughter where she balances roles as lawyer/daughter/sister/aunt/ and now judge as she struggles to address issues like overdevelopment in her much loved home. Backyard barbecues, church, home, and family--the backbone of Southern culture--provide the backdrop for another haunting tale. As Bootlegger's Daughter closes Deborah has become a district judge and in Southern Discomfort she is delivering on a commitment to provide housing for battered women. After her niece is assaulted at a building site her attacker is murdered, and Deborah finds herself investigating murder in the family when her niece becomes the murder suspect. Maron's plot device of "prgamatist" v. "preacher," her personal chatterbox, is delightful as she struggles to explore both sides of issues, an important characteristic for a judge. When Maron began the Deborah Knott series after a long career with Sigrid Harald in New York, she emerged from a good writer to a great one, as demonstrated in Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar awards for Bootlegger's Daughter. Maron has borrowed from her Southern roots to create a strong woman of the South in a giant of a mystery. The mystery as morality play, the struggle between good and evil, is nowhere better played than in America's genteel South.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Praise for Margaret Maron! 31 Oct. 2001
By "bibliofiend" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Although this is the second book in this series, it is the first by this author that I have read, and I enjoyed this book immensely. I'm not sure what it was that made it different than other books of this genre, but it was. In this novel, Deborah Knott (who is the only girl in a large family of boys) is sworn in as a judge, her brother is poisoned, her neice is assaulted, and neighborhood dogs are disappearing. We follow her through her days in court as well as her personal life, family life, etc. She is realistic, down-to-earth, and very easy to like. The author does a great job of making Deborah a part of the story without singling her out as the protagonist. It's almost as if all the characters in the book get equal billing, making it all the more believable. The parts I liked best is whenever Deborah has a thought that may or may not be correct or might be a moral dilemma of some kind, there is an argument in her head between two voices--the preacher and the pragmatist--but are not overdone and are usually only a sentence or two. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a series that is light, yet believable, with likable characters.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maron is an expert at plotting, characterization and setting 27 Mar. 1998
By Maddy Van Hertbruggen (maddyvan@worldnet.att.net) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Deborah Knott has just assumed the district judgeship that was vacated when Perry Byrd died. We see Deborah from two sides: first as the consummate professional who is politically astute and knows exactly how to play the game to get reelected and secondly as a young woman who does exactly what she wants without worrying about the consequences.
Deborah's brother, Herman, has a daughter, AnnieSue, who is apprenticing as an electrical contractor. Deborah and Annie Sue volunteer to help build a home for a poor family. One evening when Annie Sue is working at the site alone, she is attacked by Carver Bannerman, a local no-good who is running around on his pregnant wife and also recently appeared in Deborah's courtroom. Before Carver can rape Annie Sue, he is murdered. When traces of arsenic are found in his blood and Annie Sue's father almost dies of arsenic poisoning, Annie Sue become a prime suspect.

Maron is anexpert at building a plot, planting clues all along the way until you are sure you know who did it and then revealing the killer to be someone else who is absolutely the only person could have done it all along. At the same time, she builds sympathy for the character.

The only thing I did not like was a device that Maron used where Deborah has 2 inner voices that speak to her: a "pragmatist" and a "preacher". These 2 voices comment at various points in the story, and I found the interruption in the narrative flow irritating.

Maron is a very talented writer, and her characters stay with you because they are so real. Although this book was not as good as BOOTLEGGER'S DAUGHTER, Maron paints the North Carolina setting, its flora and fauna, perfectly. She recreates the southern idiom with flair.
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