Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a review of 'Sand Sharks'

Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing, ISBN 978-0-44619611-6)

In this, the 15th book in the series, Judge Deborah Knott is off to a judicial conference with her North Carolina peers in Wrightsville Beach. She is excited to be going because it is not only a chance to reconnect with some of her friends and fellow judges, bone up on some new aspects of legislation that effects her decisions on the bench but it will also allow Deborah a few days break from her new husband and stepson. Not that she doesn't love them both, but neither a new marriage or her new role as a mom are without a few difficulties to be worked out.

And then also, who doesn't love a conference that will be held in a lovely hotel on a beautiful beach. That is until the body of one of the judges is found floating in the Cape Fear River near a popular restaurant where many of the conference goers were dining. The person that discovers the body is none other than Deborah and some of the major suspects turn out to be people she has know or worked with for years. But of course, that will not stop her from getting in the thick of the investigation, with the police even asking for her help in some aspects of the investigation. Which may end up making her another potential victim.

As I mentioned, this is the 15th book in the series and that may come into play to a small degree. By the very nature of the setting, a large conferences, there are a large number of characters all introduced in a short period and that was a little confusing, trying to keep them all straight. Also, a number of the people that show up in the story, in one way or another, have a history with Deborah, a history that has been part of some of the previous books. But that being said, I can assure you that it is not necessary to have read the earlier books first to enjoy this one and ultimately not a big issue.

This is the first one of Ms. Maron's book that I have read but I am a sucker for a good mystery and then set that mystery by the ocean and you have me as a reader! And this is a good mystery. I did not figure out who the murderer was and yet, when the killer's identity was revealed, I had to admit that the clues were all there. Always a good sign, because I like my mystery writers to be fair. I also want my mystery writers to create smart, thinking characters and Judge Knott is that. No fumbling, damsel in distress here, but a female character who is smart and well respected in her professional life, at a good place in her personal life and yet up for a little adventure in solving a mystery. And capable of handling some adventure.

This may be the first of the Judge Knott's series that I have read, but I very much doubt it will be my last. I am anxious to explore some of the other North Carolina settings, starting with the interesting sounding "Bootlegger's Daughter". To quote Maron's website,
"Sand Sharks is Margaret Maron's 15th title to feature series character, Judge Deborah Knott, a district court judge in "Colleton County," North Carolina. Deborah is in her late 30s, the youngest child and only daughter of an elderly ex-bootlegger who also has 11 sons. As a district court judge, she ranges all over the state and her cases are set in such interesting places as Harkers Island down on the coast (Shooting at Loons), among the potters in central NC (Uncommon Clay), at the High Point furniture market (Killer Market), and in the Blue Ridge Mountains (High Country Fall)."

Sand Sharks is an interesting story, a pretty fast read, with a very good main character that makes a good introduction to what appears to be an entertaining series.

Thank you to Miriam Parker at Hachette for this book.


  1. It is hard coming into a series at number 15! And I can't believe I haven't heard of the series...I thought I was the queen of mystery series! I've been to plenty of conferences at the beach (stinks sitting in that room like a veal, looking out at the ocean!) but no bodies ever washed up while I was there.

  2. This sound like a good one. I do love to read a series in order, but gee whiz, if I started on #1 in this one, it'd be years before I got to Sand Sharks!

  3. I've read 3 of her books ( no idea what number they are in the series) and never felt that I was missing something. I'm with you on mysteries set near water or beachs. They can't be beat.

    have a great week, Caite and Bandit too.

  4. I read Bootlegger's Daughter and really liked it. I haven't read any more in the series, but this one sounded good. I may have to pick it up.

  5. wow! look folks, she began at the beginning!

  6. Sounds like a winner. I admit, I want to read it based on what you wrote. And I love when things aren't too easy to figure out but it makes sense ... I almost never figure things out though -- I'm almost always surprised.


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