It's the week before Christmas break at West Colleton High. The head of the cheerleading squad was in a single car crash a couple days earlier. Now, with school ready to break for the holidays, the teens learn that Mallory Johnson died. No one could understand how it happened. She was alone on a straight, dry road, on her way home from a party. She'd had soda pop there; she wouldn't drink alcohol or take drugs.
Some of Deborah Knott's nieces and nephews knew the girl. Dwight Bryant's mother, her mother-in-law, is the principle at the high school. Deborah and Dwight are involved on the sidelines - comforting and reassuring family and attending the funeral. The Knott and Bryant families continue with their family traditions.
Deborah is finishing up the last few days in court before Christmas. Dwight is busy in his job. A couple men from a family of ne'er do wells are found shot dead in one of the brother's trailer. There is a rolling meth lab the sherriff's department is trying to catch. Dwight also has paperwork to catch up on. Plus, it is Dwight and Deborah's first anniversary. Their lives have taken some unexpected turns in the last year - things they couldn't have imagined when Dwight first proposed to Deborah a year and a half earlier.
Christmas Mourning is a layered novel. It is a warning for teen aged drivers - focusing on the high statistics of auto accident deaths. There is the mystery itself - which ends up being more than one mystery, one many years old. Then there is the Knott and Bryant families. Margaret Maron highlights the families' connections and ties. Both Deborah and Dwight come from supportive families which are a backbone for them both.
Maron does a good job of combining the story lines for those who haved followed the Deborah Knott series. If the reader hasn't read any of these before, Christmas Mourning may seem to be too family oriented and not enough mystery oriented. But the mystery and the teen driving messages are firmly entrenched in the story line. The extra twists at the solution of the mystery give the novel an unexpected yet suitable ending.
Christmas Mourning is a comfortable cozy mystery. Although she helps Dwight work through the puzzles, Deborah is not personally involved in this mystery. She doesn't face any near death experience from sticking her nose into the wrong place. The mystery isn't as intense as some of Maron's books. It's a book that entertains as well as make you think.
|The Deborah Knott Series:||
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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