I’ve read some Margaret Maron, and collected several in preparation for the inevitable binge. I’ve only read a couple of the Sigrid Haralds, though, and so was pleased that Three-Day Town (which I received from Netgalley, thank you) was part of the Deborah Knott series; these books have been on my radar for a while but somehow never actually wound up in my hands, so I looked forward to meeting Judge Knott. I don’t really like starting in the middle of a series (instant spoilers for every book before it), but I have to say, I found this a great place to break in. And then, to my surprise (not having read the synopsis), who should enter the picture but Sigrid Harald.
I do feel obliged to remark that the book shares one of what I feel are the besetting sins of “cozy” mysteries – to wit, the fact that death follows the featured character(s) around like a stray puppy. It’s inevitable, I know, but stretches my suspension of disbelief more than most fantasies. In these series, Sigrid Harald is a homicide cop, and so has every reason to keep encountering death; Deborah Knott is a judge married to a cop, and is therefore in a situation where she might do so also. However, this book sends her and her husband on vacation – a week in New York, their long-delayed honeymoon. And within forty-eight hours someone is dead in their borrowed apartment.
That out of the way (and, really, who cares?), it’s a great story. The writing is so fluid and full of character I can’t imagine why I haven’t read more Margaret Maron. Coming off a recent stretch of Carol O’Connell’s Mallory novels, read far more recently than the Sigrid books, I’m seeing a resemblance between those two main characters; Sigrid isn’t a psychopath, but she is a social misfit in some of the same ways. This could be one reason I haven’t read more Maron, if my ambivalence toward Sigrid here is evidence. I was a little sorry every time the narrative switched over from the first-person intimate of Deborah Knott to the third-person chilly of Sigrid Harald.
*That* being said, the sure-handed telling of the story is a sight to see. Neither main character has all the facts, and their relationship (all but nil, and not likely to grow warmer) does not see them swapping confidences. In the meantime, other secondary characters go about with bits of information, leaving the reader to wait until either Deborah or Sigrid makes the necessary connection and resulting discovery. There is one aspect of the story (where the obscene statue came from), revealed to the reader in a flash-back prologue, which is never revealed to the main characters. This book is obviously the product of a seasoned writer. I can’t say I adore Deborah, and I can’t even say I much like Sigrid (though I’m intrigued by her); I found the evolution of the murder mystery a little far-fetched; even so, all in all, it was a good read.