No one is more surprised than Judge Deborah Knott at her engagement to childhood friend Dwight Bryant. Antsy with prewedding jitters, she eagerly accepts the chance to take another judge's cases in the western part of North Carolina for a week.

When Deborah gets to Cedar Gap, she learns that a prominent member of the community, Dr. Carlyle Ledwig, died after falling from a balcony at his home. The police have arrested the boyfriend of Ledwig's daughter, but friends insist that Daniel Freeman is no killer. The good doctor made plenty of enemies by implementing a planning board and running it dictatorially. When another death occurs, the police realize that they either have the wrong man or two killers.

Maron's long-running series keeps delivering the goods. Not only do we have a puzzling mystery, but also stunning illustrations of North Carolina's high country in the fall that make readers dream of a trip there. Deborah also has a lot of soul-searching to do as she contemplates her pending nuptials.

An acknowledged mistress of Southern storytelling, Maron has given readers another gem. (Aug., 303 pp., $24.00)
Reviewed by: 
Lorraine Gelly