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28 March 2013

hardcover published Grand Central (Hatchette) November 2012.

I discovered Margaret Marron’s Judge Deborah Knott books by being sent an anthology of legal women fiction back around 2001. An American friend was a book reviewer and thought I’d like his copy once he’d reviewed it. I did. I read the Deborah Knott story (amongst the some 20 others) and loved it. Subsequently I managed to find and buy the previous books in the series during trips to America, and then put in a permanent order for them with my Auckland bookshop. The background is said to be based on the author’s own childhood and area of South Carolina, and there is certainly an evocative richness to it that helps make the stories. The author also writes a different series set in New York and featuring a policewoman. I never liked that series so was initially hesitant when I saw that this book’s plot and characters are a crossover with the other series, and had the policewoman, her mother and grandmother involved in some odd events in the Judge’s territory. However it worked.

The grandmother is dying, and her daughter Anne, and granddaughter Sigrid Harald (the New York homicide detective) are visiting Deborah’s Colleton County to spend time with old Mrs. Lattimore. Also in the area is Mrs. Lattimore’s long-lost nephew, Martin Crawford, an ornithologist researching turkey buzzards. And of course, there’s a mysterious disappearance, when a real estate agent vanishes and is later found murdered. Who did it? One of her clients, her husband, a prowling stranger or someone known to Deborah and her husband the sheriff? Then there’s the young man who became carried away at a local protest, the “accidental death” of a CIA agent at a motel by the airport, and Mrs. Lattimore’s daughter Anne, who is convinced that she’d seen her cousin Martin somewhere before but can’t recall where. In this series Margaret Marron has never written a dud and The Buzzard’s table is no exception. It’s a plot interwoven with family events and characters, less so than some of the other books, but still sufficient to satisfy those who like to meet previous characters. And the mysteries main and subsidiary – are good solid work that tie up ends comfortably. I recommend both the series and this book to those who like a good crime tale with an in-depth background.


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