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Shooting at Loons


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District Court Judge Deborah Knott, a native North Carolinian, looks forward to filling in for a sick colleague at the Harker's Island courthouse. But on her first fishing trip after arriving on the island, she discovers the body of an old fisherman known to her since childhood. Without taking much action, Knott learns of a motive for the murder: the victim's opposition to an environmentally damaging development scheme. The down-home prose flows well, spiced by Judge Knott's wit, charm, and extended family as well as by references to the local food and drink. A highly recommended work from the author of Southern Discomfort (LJ 5/1/93).

North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott, introduced in the multiple award-winning Bootlegger's Daughter , returns in her third adventure in as many years. Maron constructs a tight mystery, peoples it with an original cast and powerfully evokes her Outer Banks setting, but dry issues of civil law drag at the narrative. Deborah, filling in for an ailing judge at the Carteret County courthouse, stays in her cousin's waterside cottage and, while clamming, finds the body of the president of the Independent Fishers Alliance, shot in the chest. The murder quickly involves her in local conflicts among commercial fishermen, upstate sportsmen, land developers and conservationists. Real estate mogul Linville Pope, with an eye on the half-billion-dollar tourist industry, wants to buy the Neville Fishery property owned by the wife of a local judge. When Pope turns up dead, dressed in the colors of the endangered loon, suspects range from the judge, whose hands might be dirty, to a crusty islander who is--illegally--building a boat on Pope's property. Deborah discovers corpses, reads dull files for clues and falls for a local cop, but she doesn't determine the killer until she's looking down the barrel of a .22 rifle. In this drama, she's more a passive participant than a catalyst. (June)

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