Major Dwight Bryant has an unusal case in Colleton County, North Carolina.Someone is leaving body parts around the county. First a pair of legs are found near a church. Soon after a right hand appears down the road. Then another right hand is found...
Meanwhile, Judge Deborah Knott is settling in with her new family. A year earlier she was "footloose and fancy free". Now she is happily married and has an unexpected step-son as well. They are adding trees, flowers, and a garden to her house. And she has learned to appreciate hockey. She didn't like it until she joined her stepson at a live game for the Hurricanes. Next year, she decides, she's buying three season tickets for all of them.
Don't you love to sit down with a nice pair of slippers and visit with an old friend? Margaret Maron's Hard Row gives that same feeling. The novel is comfortable and the mystery is good. As the series progressed she switched from 100% first person narrative to a mixture of first person and third person narrative. The first few books with that method had some disjointedness. But it works great in Hard Row. Deborah is involved with the mystery from the sidelines, so couldn't have told the whole thing first person. But Dwight is completely involved.
A major part of the tale, besides the well crafted murder mystery, is the immigrant worker population that is a considerable percentage of the farm workers in North Carolina. This has been mentioned in past novels, but now takes center stage as part of the story. Maron highlights the problems of the workers as well as the farmers. Migrant farm workers have been in this country for decades - the problems that go with that population group shift around the country as they do.
If you haven't read any of the Deborah Knott series, it won't matter to your enjoyment of this novel. It stands very well on its own. There is enough history wound in for a new reader to quickly come up to speed on the personal lives of Deborah and her family. At the same time, those of us who have read the previous novels aren't innundated with the past.
Hard Row is an excellent mystery novel. This should be on your "don't miss" list.
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|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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