Margaret Maron's latest Deborah Knott mystery:
Reviewed by David Marshall James
What better way for author Margaret Maron to have her Judge (as in District Court, Colleton County, North Carolina) Deborah Knott character cross paths with her dormant character, Lt. (as in NYPD) Sigrid Harald, than in NYC?
Deborah has a delivery from back home, to Lt. Harald from her dying grandmother.
So, they were going to have a tete a tete, even without a murder.
Deborah and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy (as in Colleton County, NC-- fictitious, BTW) Dwight Bryant, are taking a much-delayed honeymoon, having lucked out with a stay at an in-law's apartment, while the current tenant is abroad.
The apartment is located in one of those West Side (highly desirable) relics, a co-op with 24/7 elevator operators and porters.
Here a tip, there a tip, everywhere a tip, tip.
Therefore, a murder on the premises allows for more of a "closed door" scenario than, say, if the elevators were manual.
As for The Honeymooners: Of course, the crime would have to occur in their suite.
At least they manage a little, ah, fun before it all goes down.
Maron accomplishes some noteworthy feats with this seventeenth Deborah Knott mystery:
First and foremost, she structures another gulp-it-down story. Think of a kraut dog on a scarf-around-your-face winter's day. It ain't gonna last long.
Secondly, her sense of place is skillfully reflected in the climate du jour, even though she's in NYC, not NC, this time.
For thirds, her characters come to life with a minimal number of authorial brushstrokes. Herein, a young actress who resides in the building (and sometimes misses home-- as in, the East Side) and a kleptomaniacal cleaning lady provide examples of that dexterity.
Finally, perhaps it's time to jump back to Sigrid, at least for a few books? If that's part of the intent here, to re-introduce her, then Maron strikes gold.
Now that Deborah's settled down, why not allow her and Dwight that much-deserved honeymoon, one that certainly never comes off as it should have in these oh-so-easy-to-turn pages.
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