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High Country Fall (2004)
by Margaret Maron
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In her newest novel featuring popular Judge Deborah Knott, multiple-prize winning author Margaret Maron explores the achingly beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where leaves are turning...and corpses are deadly still. No one is more surprised than Judge Deborah Knott by her engagement to her childhood friend Dwight Bryant. Stressed out by the impending marriage, Deborah agrees to fill in for a vacationing judge in the hills of Cedar Gap. With its fresh mountain air and gorgeous fall foliage, it's the perfect place to clear her head...until a local doctor is brutally murdered. Presiding over the probable cause case against the main suspect, Deborah decides the trial can proceed. But when a second person is killed, Deborah begins to look at this case-and her relationship with Dwight-with more critical eyes. And if she fails to notice the fast approaching darkness, she could end up as another corpse in the High Country fall... ( )
The Judge needs a time out from the family and community maelstrom created when she and Dwight announce their engagement. A fortuitous temporary assignment to the most Northwest corner of North Carolina. A previous death and a disappearance, the night of her arrival, of two local movers and shakers. She tries to maintain her distance but gets drawn in by her ditsy but nice twin nices.
An attempt o her life gives her plenty of time to ponder the clues and the crimes while sawing her way out of her seatbelt with her door key. But her time away does enable her to come to a decision about life with Dwight.
Synopsis: Deborah is filling in for a judge in the hills of Cedar Gap. It's fall and the leaves have drawn all sorts of tourists to the area, along with those folks who are looking for a second home. There have been two murders and Deborah is involved because she has ruled that a young man should be bound over for the first murder. Her two nieces believe that the young man is innocent and they are investigating. Deborah nearly loses her life because of a murderous young man, and the time she is trapped in the car gives her time to think about who the real murderer could be.
Review: This is a nicely crafted book with an interesting plot.
I think this is towards the top of my top five books in the Knott series. The mystery is pretty simple. Deborah goes up to the Mountains of North Carolina to sub for a judge (this is an 'Away' Knott novel). And first she gets to preside over the probably cause hearing of the alleged killer of a prominent doctor who died and fell or down the mountain, then she's at the party when one of the dead Doctor's friends goes missing. There are some interesting twists and turns along the way, but the solution isn't terribly surprising.
No. The best part of the book is the Deb/Dwight subplot again and this time Dwight isn't even physically present for most of the story, though at the same time he seems to be the undercurrent in every Deborah scene.
Maron simply and without a bit of a reasonable doubt knows how to write characters so that the reader roots for them or against them or whatever is needed in the story line. They're rich and deep and multi-layered.
This novel also had a bit of a thriller feel at some parts to me, but, perhaps that's because the entire novel takes place literally on the side of a mountain. And also because of the Dwight/Deb drama the novel takes place on an emotional precipice also. Solid four stars.
I think I've read this one before, but hadn't marked it on Goodreads, so I enjoyed listening to it on CD in my car. Loved the NC mountain setting, different from the eastern NC setting normally in the series. Interesting cast of characters, and nice to see Deborah and Dwight finally come together.
Deboray is finally ready to marry her long-time friend Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant and settle down--or is she? She jumps at a chance to fill in for a judge far away in the state's high country. But human ugliness haunts the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. The community of Cedar Gap is rocked by a murder just as Deborah pulls into town. Within days, she becomes involved in helping an innocent man prove himself, even if it means putting her own life at risk.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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