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High Country Fall: A Deborah Knott Mystery    by Margaret Maron order for
High Country Fall
by Margaret Maron
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The reactions of Judge Deborah Knott's extended family and friends to her wedding announcement are driving her crazy - the 'tom-toms, the grapevine, and yes, the Internet too, were all working overtime' as everyone showers both advice and bridal showers on her reluctant head. The thing is, that she and her brothers' childhood friend, police officer Dwight Bryant, have decided on a pragmatic, sensible arrangement, 'based on friendship and mutual history, not romance.'

So she's happy to have an excuse to 'head for the hills', to hold court up in Cedar Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They're blazing with fall colors ... 'Heaven's streets of gold are going to look pretty bland compared to those brilliant oranges and burning reds, the tawny browns and flaming coppers'. Deborah borrows her cousin Bev's condo, which Bev's twin daughters, May and June are supposedly re-painting. And of course she finds a murder or two (with a doctor and a real-estate magnate as victims) to investigate, as entertainment in this fall paradise for herself and her readers. We wonder together 'cui bono? Who benefits?' The answer is surprising and inventive, as is the position from which Judge Deborah reaches her whodunit conclusion.

This is my first meeting with Deborah Knott, and I hope to spend more time with this forceful and lively protagonist, and the friends and family who add spice to her life and to this cozy series. The backdrop this time adds a great deal of color and interest, in particular locals' reactions to both tourists and seasonal visitors and their impact on the region. And there is an engaging development in the Judge's personal life as well as in the mystery - series fans will revel in both.

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