Southern Discomfort

Southern Discomfort

Book - 1993
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Deborah Knott may have lost the district election, but a bigoted judge's sudden death - and some old-fashioned political horse trading - have won her a governor's appointment. True to Southern form, her swearing-in is followed by a raucous reception that brings out every elderly aunt and cousin in the county. Unfortunately, Lu Bingham, the force behind WomanAid, is at the reception, too. Not only has she come to collect the leftovers for her daycare center, but she's also there to collect on one of Deborah's more extravagant campaign promises. Before Deborah can say, "If elected..". she is committed to putting her muscle where her mouth was, spending weekends with an all-woman crew as the group attempts to build its first house for a needy single mom. Old stereotypes die hard. Herman Knott, one of Deborah's numerous brothers, has to be hectored and cajoled before he'll give reluctant permission for his daughter and novice electrician Annie Sue to wire the house. Nor does it help that the county building inspector is a swaggering chauvinist nit-picker who's more interested in scoring with the young women than scoring their work. Chaos erupts before the house is even half-finished. On the same rainy summer night that Herman collapses on the side of the road from an apparent heart attack, Annie Sue is found battered and half-naked in the deserted structure. Has she been raped? Who left her in that condition? And whose blood is that on Deborah's own hammer? Dwight Bryant, an old childhood friend (and a bit of a good ol' boy), is a modern and efficient police detective, but it is Deborah who must judge whether dark secrets in her own family have led to murder. And if so, reveal the darkermore troubling reasons why.
Publisher: New York : Mysterious Press, c1993.
ISBN: 9780892964468
Branch Call Number: M/MARO
Characteristics: 241 p. 24 cm.


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Mar 13, 2020

This was a tale made especially enjoyable by the evocations of time and place like the mid-summer night walk hearing the corn grow. There was a sophomoric attention to matters of personal hygiene right alongside nuanced character descriptions set in sadly perennial social issues in the tangled jungles of families struggling to do right by each other. It is a delightful slice of life from the Tar Heels of North Carolina.

Dec 05, 2014

Judge Deborah Knott's been appointed, and now needs to run to keep the office she really wants. She wants to keep a campaign promise to help build houses for battered women. Expecting muscle aches and pains, she doesn't expect a near rape and the murder of the attacker. Even worse, the murder weapon is her own hammer, and her fingerprints are on the murder weapon. Luckily, the cops don't seriously consider her a suspect. More an issue is keeping out of the newspaper the identity of the victim, and keeping her from feeling like a victim. She's a young member of Deborah's large family. The one wielding the hammer, who ultimately confesses to Deborah, not the police, is a long-time friend of the family, and a third girl is involved too. All three girls need help and counselling. The boys in the family, if they find out, will want to go after the guys the would-be rapist hung out with. Deborah wants to see justice done, while protecting the girls and helping them grow up. She makes some mistakes in the process, and that helps her grow up. I like books where characters grow, and like that Maron allows that to happen to Deborah and others in this sometimes uncomfortable book.


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