Book Review: Hard Row

For North Carolina Judge Deborah Knott it was just another Friday’s worth of hearings including two assault cases stemming from a single bar room altercation. Plans for a quiet evening at home while husband, Sheriff Deputy Dwight Bryant and his son Cal attended a hockey game met a swift end with the gruesome discovery of a pair of legs found in a ditch. As body parts begin turning up throughout the county issues of race, undocumented workers and migrant rights bubble to the surface while Deborah attempts to create a bond with her new stepson. Eventually investigators realize they are dealing with more then one body but are uncertain if there is a serial killer in their midst. Deborah has no reason to see anything overly sinister when Judson Harris, owner of Harris Farms who is involved in a nasty divorce fails to turn up for his court appearance. When some body parts are officially identified as Harris, there can be little doubt he met with a gruesome end in a case that forces locals to evaluate their treatment of illegals.

This is a nice addition to the Deborah Knott series with plenty of family ties, the issues that come with having eleven brothers trying to make a living off the land and the adjustments that are a part of a new marriage with the surprise of a stepson. The well-constructed story lacks a surprise twist as it goes for a relaxed “feel good” ending instead. It should be interesting to see where Maron takes this likeable character in future.

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