Mysterious Press, August 2004, 24.00, 303 pp.
Since Judge Deborah Knott has not found love or lasting passion with anyone, she agrees to marry her childhood friend Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant for practical reasons like good sex and companionship. His and her relatives are happy for them; making such a big deal of the upcoming nuptials that Deborah wants to escape from the wedding talk. She gets her chance when she is called in to substitute for the judge in Cedar Gap, which is five hours away from where she lives.
One of her first cases when she arrives is the arraignment of Daniel Wayne Freeman in the death of Dr. Carlyle Grayson Ledwig. Although Danny passes for white, he is part black and the victim did not want him to marry his daughter. There is enough evidence to bind him over for trial but when Norman Osborne is killed in an identical manner and Danny has an alibi, the authorities believe they were too quick to judge him and set out to find a killer who has struck twice.
Margaret Maron once again delivers a fascinating crime thriller that grabs and keeps reader interest. The judge does not play an active role in finding the killer but when she is trapped in a car after an accident, the identity of the killer comes to her. Her antics to escape nuptial bliss is amusing and brings to life the closeness of small town living.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner