Bootlegger’s Daughter, by Margaret Maron

     This is the first mystery in a popular, award-winning series. Maron lives near Raleigh, and her setting is a still-rural area not far from that city. The main character, Deborah Knott, is a 34-year-old unmarried attorney who’s campaigning for the office of district judge. Her father’s prison record for bootlegging may lose the election for her. While she’s almost overwhelmed with her busy campaign schedule, 18-year-old Gayle Whitehead pays her a visit. When Deborah was 16, she Bootleggers babysat for Gayle, then a baby. One rainy spring day during Gayle’s infancy, Gayle and her mother Janie disappeared. They were found three days later in an abandoned mill; Janie had been shot and the hungry baby was in her infant seat beside her. The case was never solved. Now Gayle wants Deborah to find her mother’s killer. Since almost everyone in the community knows and trusts Deborah, she believes that someone will tell her a secret that will solve the murder. As Deborah reluctantly begins talking to people about the murder, two other people are killed, and Deborah has to use a gun, as well as her wits, to save herself.

     I started reading Maron’s Deborah Knott mysteries around 1998, starting in the middle of the series. I recently decided to read this mystery to discover how the series began. If you haven’t read any of the series, this is definitely the place to start. If you, like me, started in the middle, you’ll find this a suspenseful read and also enjoy getting the background on Deborah’s story.

(Helen Snow, Information Services)

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