Long Upon the Land (A Deborah Knott Mystery)

Written by Margaret Maron

There is a dead man in this book, a body found on Knott land who might have some contentious connection to Judge Deborah Knott’s father Kezzie Knott or one of her twelve brothers and half brothers. Of course sometimes it seems as if everything that happens in Colleton County North Carolina has something to do with the Knotts.

Unfortunately for the investigation, the dead man is a person nobody much liked—including his wife and brother. A more compelling mystery is tied to the past of Deborah’s long dead mother that goes back to World War II as Deborah investigates the inscription on her mother’s treasured old Zippo lighter that has come into Deborah’s possession.

In Mystery Scene magazine (Number 141, 2015) Margaret Maron announced that this is the last of the Deborah Knott series. She said there were two main reasons. The first is that after twenty books “I felt I had pretty much exhausted the original material.” And then she went on to talk about her second reason, “…the political climate of the state has changed so much since the ‘9o’s that it’s hard for a self-avowed liberal to keep writing about it without starting to sound like a political tract. It breaks my heart to see how many progressive policies have been reversed, how many good social programs have been eviscerated and how heartlessly our politicians now act toward those less fortunate. They who benefited when there were young are now denying those benefits to our current crop of young citizens.”

There is one sentence I can recall in Long Upon the Land that reflects this point of view, but it is not a political book. Rather there is an elegiac tone in the story that transcends politics, a deep feeling for family, the land, and the ways they shape our lives for good and ill. If you are a fan of this series the final book is a must read. And it is a satisfying ending though I will miss the yearly news of Deborah, now going forward with her life without Margaret Maron to tell us about it. However, if you haven’t read others in the series I’d suggest starting earlier. To my way of thinking the first book The Bootlegger’s Daughter is the perfect place to get acquainted with the characters.

NOTE: A list of all Ms. Maron’s Deborah Knott titles can be found under Magpie Recommends.

Sandra Jordan

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