Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Long Upon The Land by Margaret Maron. This is the 20th book in this author's Judge Deborah Knott mystery series. It is a great favorite of mine, and I am very much looking forward to catching up with Deborah, her husband Dwight, and the extended Knott family. See what you think:
She first notices him because he always sits at a table off to the side of the USO club and he usually sits alone. For some reason, he reminds her of her father, the only person in Dobbs that she misses. Not her mother, not the friends she had gone to school with, and certainly not the boys who joined up as soon as they turned eighteen and who think she is counting the days till they return.
KEEP UP THEIR MORALE! the posters urge; and to do her part, she writes weekly letters that give them news from home yet promise nothing, no matter what they might think. If they survive the war--and one has already died in the Battle of Corregidor--they will come back and become doctors, lawyers, or bankers like their fathers before them. They will be good men, pillars of the community, and they will live in big houses and buy their wives fur coats or take them to Europe every three or four years once things settle down over there, but she never plans to become one of those wives herself. Turn into her mother? Devote her life to maintaining a perfect home, to keeping up appearances?
No--NO--NO! She drops out of Saint Mary's after one semester. "It's a debutante school!"
"So?" says her mother. Ever since Sue and Zell were toddlers, Mrs. Stephenson has dreamed of seeing her daughters make their debut together and she will never forgive the Germans for a war that has cancelled all debutante balls for the duration.
"You keep saying what you don't want," her bewildered father says. "What is it you do want, honey?"
"I don't know," Sue cries. "I don't know! I just want to live a real life," which is the closest she can come to articulating this nameless yearning to be needed, to make a difference.
On a quiet August morning, Judge Deborah Knott's father Kezzie makes a shocking discovery on a remote corner of his farm: the body of a man bludgeoned to death. Investigating this crime, Deborah's husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, soon uncovers a long-simmering hostility between Kezzie and the slain man over a land dispute. The local newspaper implies that Deborah's family may have had something to do with the murder-and that Dwight is dragging his feet on the case.
Meanwhile, Deborah is given a cigarette lighter that once belonged to her mother. The cryptic inscription inside rekindles Deborah's curiosity about her parents' past, and how they met. For years she has wondered how the daughter of a wealthy attorney could have married a widowed, semi-illiterate bootlegger, and this time she's determined to find the answer.
But why are Deborah's brothers so reluctant to talk about the dead man? Is the murder linked to Kezzie's illegal whiskey business? And could his courtship of Deborah's mother have something to do with the bad blood between the two families? Despite Deborah's promise not to interfere in Dwight's work, she cannot stop herself from doing everything she can to help clear her brothers and her father from suspicion . . .
Have you read any of the books in this series? I've been reading it for over 20 years. And loving it. The first book is The Bootlegger's Daughter.