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Hard Row

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As Judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. An early spring sun has begun to shine like a blessing on the fertile fields of North Carolina, but along with the seeds sprouting in the thawing soil, violence is gr As Judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. An early spring sun has begun to shine like a blessing on the fertile fields of North Carolina, but along with the seeds sprouting in the thawing soil, violence is growing as well. Mutilated body parts have appeared along the back roads of Colleton County, and the search for the victim's identity and for that of his killer will lead Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the desperate realm of undocumented farm workers exploited for cheap labor. In the meantime, Deborah and Dwight continue to adjust to married life and to having Dwight's eight-year-old son, Cal, live with them full time. When another body is found, these newlyweds will discover dark truths that threaten to permanently alter the serenity of their rural surroundings and their new life together.


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As Judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. An early spring sun has begun to shine like a blessing on the fertile fields of North Carolina, but along with the seeds sprouting in the thawing soil, violence is gr As Judge Deborah Knott presides over a case involving a barroom brawl, it becomes clear that deep resentments over race, class, and illegal immigration are simmering just below the surface in the countryside. An early spring sun has begun to shine like a blessing on the fertile fields of North Carolina, but along with the seeds sprouting in the thawing soil, violence is growing as well. Mutilated body parts have appeared along the back roads of Colleton County, and the search for the victim's identity and for that of his killer will lead Deborah and her new husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the desperate realm of undocumented farm workers exploited for cheap labor. In the meantime, Deborah and Dwight continue to adjust to married life and to having Dwight's eight-year-old son, Cal, live with them full time. When another body is found, these newlyweds will discover dark truths that threaten to permanently alter the serenity of their rural surroundings and their new life together.

30 review for Hard Row

  1. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Newlywed Judge Deborah Knott and her husband, Colleton County Sheriff Major Dwight Bryant are adjusting to married life, raising his 8-year-old son after the recent death of his mother, and meeting with her family as to what crops they should plant on their farmland. As a presiding county court judge, Deborah is hearing cases on equitable distribution of a contentious family case, assault between an ex-husband and his ex-wife’s new date, handicap parking violations. Dwight is investigating body Newlywed Judge Deborah Knott and her husband, Colleton County Sheriff Major Dwight Bryant are adjusting to married life, raising his 8-year-old son after the recent death of his mother, and meeting with her family as to what crops they should plant on their farmland. As a presiding county court judge, Deborah is hearing cases on equitable distribution of a contentious family case, assault between an ex-husband and his ex-wife’s new date, handicap parking violations. Dwight is investigating body parts that have begun appearing in the wintry cold of February and March and an Alzheimer’s resident of a nursing home that went missing at Christmas time. The story realistically tackles immigration, Mexican farm workers’ rights and treatment, and the struggles one faces to live within one’s means. An enjoyable but gruesome mystery set in North Carolina where the small-town South comes out in the attitudes, speech, foods, and relationships.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Dunnett

    Good one, but not for the faint of heart. Of necessity, the body parts are described in some detail. I am enjoying the subplot with the female detective, especially since, although I've read all the books in the series, I can't remember how that worked out for her. A bad memory is a good thing when it comes to rereading favorite series. Good one, but not for the faint of heart. Of necessity, the body parts are described in some detail. I am enjoying the subplot with the female detective, especially since, although I've read all the books in the series, I can't remember how that worked out for her. A bad memory is a good thing when it comes to rereading favorite series.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ferne

    In reading a 'stash' of novels in the Deborah Knott Mysteries series that have been on my tbr shelves, I began with Book 2, and continued to read Book 3, Book 6, and Book 7. In reading Book 13, there is welcome news for the series readers but for me it was also bittersweet in missing the developments of Book 8-12. I'm sure that at some point I will read all the books I missed and including up to when the series ended in 2015 with Book 20. I can easily imagine that fans of the series eagerly awai In reading a 'stash' of novels in the Deborah Knott Mysteries series that have been on my tbr shelves, I began with Book 2, and continued to read Book 3, Book 6, and Book 7. In reading Book 13, there is welcome news for the series readers but for me it was also bittersweet in missing the developments of Book 8-12. I'm sure that at some point I will read all the books I missed and including up to when the series ended in 2015 with Book 20. I can easily imagine that fans of the series eagerly await "Tales from Colleton County" with anticipated publication date of April 30, 2020. The author is said to have "gathered some of Deborah's shorter adventures...a dozen stories of mystery and mayhem beginning with the very first tale from Colleton County, North Carolina, and concluding with a never-before-published Deborah Knott story." I was excited to see that "Deborah Knott's Family Tree" is again available on the opposite page of Chapter 1 as it is very useful. The 1st time that I viewed the family tree was in Book 6, "Home Fires." After reading several books in the series right in a row I'm more familiar with Deborah's large family but it is a good resource and I wish it would have been available in the first book I read in the series which was Book 2, "Southern Discomfort.” This novel continued a feature which I enjoy as it provides a "heading" and/or very effective "lead-in" at the beginning of each chapter. In this novel the italicized sentences are verses of hymns which are credited on the copyright page: All chapter epigraphs are from "Profitable Farming in the Southern States," by J. W. Fitz. “Assisted by a Large Corps of Prominent and Successful Agricultural Writers,” 1890. Franklin Publishing Company, Richmond, Virginia. Margaret Maron's selected epigraphs are as true to farming today as they were when written in 1890. In this series Margaret Maron used the foundation of a strong, independent female, Deborah Knott and a large and yet close-knit family to explore diverse issues from rape to elections to building homes for single mothers to racism to hurricanes to the challenges of farming from the family history of being tobacco farmers, the initial use of pesticides to the advent of the younger generation trying to explain the desire and need for organic farming. The writing is compelling yet straightforward. I also appreciated the sense of humor the author gave to Deborah Knott as throughout the series Deborah has 2 sides of her brain quietly talking to her - the preacher and the pragmatist. I really enjoyed this series. Each book can easily be read as a stand-alone but to enjoy reading multiple novels in the series consecutively has been pure joy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    A great mystery book. Thirteenth in the DK series. Issues: Migrant workers, being a stepmother, pesticides, birth defects, racism.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Duhl

    I still like her - good plots, politics, characters, setting. A fast & fun read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard Brand

    Like all of Deborah Knott stories I have read, this one focuses on a particular aspect of life. This was farming. Within that large topic there was a piece about her family farming and a piece about migrant workers and farming. This was probably the most gruesome murder story that Dwight Bryant has had in the series. There were lots of little side issues like the new arrangement for Mr. Bryant's son living with them. If you are reading the Knott series, you are well aware of the nice gentle huma Like all of Deborah Knott stories I have read, this one focuses on a particular aspect of life. This was farming. Within that large topic there was a piece about her family farming and a piece about migrant workers and farming. This was probably the most gruesome murder story that Dwight Bryant has had in the series. There were lots of little side issues like the new arrangement for Mr. Bryant's son living with them. If you are reading the Knott series, you are well aware of the nice gentle human style of Mrs. Maron. She has created a very nice world that is almost like Mayberry. There is dismemberment of two bodies and the search for both reasons and doers is the major thrust. The endings are possible, and in fact, justice is not assured.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The discovery of a dismembered body leads to the eventual unraveling of a gruesome crime in a mystery that explores the agricultural setting of Judge Deborah Knott’s North Carolina as well as Deborah’s new life as a stepmother.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janet Hutchinson

    I cut my mystery teeth on Margaret Maron, but forgot about her over the years. This is a pleasant, easy read, and picks up the story past where I left her. So, I’ll have to go back to fill in some pieces.

  9. 4 out of 5

    LJ

    HARD ROW (Mystery-Police Proc-Deborah Knott-North Carolina-Cont) – VG Maron, Margaret – 13th in series Warner Books, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 044658433 First Sentence: El Toro Negro sits net to an abandoned tobacco warehouse a few feet inside the Dobbs city limits. *** Judge Deborah Knot has a case before her dealing with race, class and illegal immigration. For her new husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, tt starts with the discovery to two bare legs. Than a hand and, literally bit-by-bit, ot HARD ROW (Mystery-Police Proc-Deborah Knott-North Carolina-Cont) – VG Maron, Margaret – 13th in series Warner Books, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 044658433 First Sentence: El Toro Negro sits net to an abandoned tobacco warehouse a few feet inside the Dobbs city limits. *** Judge Deborah Knot has a case before her dealing with race, class and illegal immigration. For her new husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, tt starts with the discovery to two bare legs. Than a hand and, literally bit-by-bit, other body parts turn up. Even before the police can look for the killer, they need to find the identity of the victim. *** I wasn’t certain how Maron was going to incorporate Deborah’s marriage into the stories, but I needn’t have worried. Maron is such a wonderful writer, she really makes it work. Each character is dealing with their own jobs with the link being their home, family and Dwight’s son Cal who lives with them since the murder of his mother in the previous book. For me, this lends real levels to the story and the characters. All the characters are wonderfully dimensional and real, the location as important to the story as the characters and great dialogue. The plotting is excellent and the ending completely unexpected yet not out-of-the blue. Highly recommended

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    Deborah and Dwight are dealing with being both newlyweds and full-time parents while both are trying to keep up with very challenging jobs. When stray body parts start showing up all over Colleton County Dwight is chasing leads and Deborah is trying to help while not getting in the way of the investigations. There are at least three different stories running through this story as well as another two or three as subtext. It is that layering and weaving together of lives in and around crime and pun Deborah and Dwight are dealing with being both newlyweds and full-time parents while both are trying to keep up with very challenging jobs. When stray body parts start showing up all over Colleton County Dwight is chasing leads and Deborah is trying to help while not getting in the way of the investigations. There are at least three different stories running through this story as well as another two or three as subtext. It is that layering and weaving together of lives in and around crime and punishment that keep me coming back to the Judge Knott stories. Both Deborah and Dwight are very bright people, they talk about things that they can without compromising each other (with her a judge and him a cop there can be conflict of interest issues) yet both manage to realize that it is important to trust the other to do their job. The very large family that Deborah has just bring interest and drama to the story. I loved the sub-story about the "younger generation" getting some acreage and deciding what they can grow organically -- all the while the "older generation" is not happy about it because they remember what it was like to try and get crops that were pest or disease free. I'm catching up, only a couple more books to read and then I'll be like all Maron's other fans, waiting impatiently for the next in the series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cat.

    I have somehow missed reading about Judge Deborah Knott up to this point. This is apparently the 13th book in the series. I'm debating whether I should add the series to my list of books to read. The prime motivator, besides being a generally good, character-driven story, is that I have family in the general area. This one finds Deborah presiding over several interrelated cases: a domestic abuse case, a nasty divorce, and immigrant-worker issues. Her husband, Dwight, is the sheriff and has some i I have somehow missed reading about Judge Deborah Knott up to this point. This is apparently the 13th book in the series. I'm debating whether I should add the series to my list of books to read. The prime motivator, besides being a generally good, character-driven story, is that I have family in the general area. This one finds Deborah presiding over several interrelated cases: a domestic abuse case, a nasty divorce, and immigrant-worker issues. Her husband, Dwight, is the sheriff and has some icky remains turning up to figure out as well as a missing elderly man. Meanwhile, on the home front they are both trying to integrate their 2-month marriage along with learning to deal with an 8-year-old 'instant son' who used to live with Dwight's first wife. Good story with lots of local color in the best sense. You really get a sense of the community and of North Carolina people. I think Maron is probably going on The List.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is the first book in he series which I have come across. It was a quick and enjoyable read and I will certainly pick up more in this series. Deborah is a judge and a newlywed who has just become a full time step mom as a result if the unfortunate death of her new husbands ex-wife. She is faced with issues related to racism , sexism, and poor work environments Of Foreign farm workers. Her position as a judge puts her in contact with many of the same people her husband encounters in his role a This is the first book in he series which I have come across. It was a quick and enjoyable read and I will certainly pick up more in this series. Deborah is a judge and a newlywed who has just become a full time step mom as a result if the unfortunate death of her new husbands ex-wife. She is faced with issues related to racism , sexism, and poor work environments Of Foreign farm workers. Her position as a judge puts her in contact with many of the same people her husband encounters in his role as sheriff. Unfortunately she also sheds light on the inescapable dilemma caused by situations of domestic violence - and all in an easy to read, enjoyable presentation. I give this book 3 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rowan

    Margaret Maron has an appealing character and a lot of interesting detail about her life and family - the mystery is just an excuse for the rest of this. That's the kind of mystery I like. Margaret Maron has an appealing character and a lot of interesting detail about her life and family - the mystery is just an excuse for the rest of this. That's the kind of mystery I like.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Good read. This book beyond being a great mystery, shows an insiders view of life in NC. The importance of family - the changing tobacco crop - the immigrant influx.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I love these quick, interesting, well written mysteries about Judge Deborah Knott! Highly recommend!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Wow this was a great book! I actually picked this one from the library because I thought it was the first in a series (not sure how I missed the fact that it is actually number 13), so now I have to go back and read the first 12, and I don't mind a bit! Actually, not having read the first 12 didn't matter that much. I believe I may have been more well acquainted with the main character's very large family had I started at book number 1 and there may be some things that happen over the course of Wow this was a great book! I actually picked this one from the library because I thought it was the first in a series (not sure how I missed the fact that it is actually number 13), so now I have to go back and read the first 12, and I don't mind a bit! Actually, not having read the first 12 didn't matter that much. I believe I may have been more well acquainted with the main character's very large family had I started at book number 1 and there may be some things that happen over the course of the series that I'll know earlier than I otherwise would have, but I don't think it will take anything away from the enjoyment.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Grove

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A book much to be enjoyed. Handles the social issues really well. Put simply a bloke doesn't turn up at the hearing for the Equitable Distribution of assets following a divorce settlement. Male body parts start turning up - from more than one body. Body parts + missing man = match. But was it the wife, the daughter (each for financial reasons) or someone else. And what about the extra parts? This story has the one main plot, who, why and when. But there are other stories being told in this book A book much to be enjoyed. Handles the social issues really well. Put simply a bloke doesn't turn up at the hearing for the Equitable Distribution of assets following a divorce settlement. Male body parts start turning up - from more than one body. Body parts + missing man = match. But was it the wife, the daughter (each for financial reasons) or someone else. And what about the extra parts? This story has the one main plot, who, why and when. But there are other stories being told in this book - the move from farming tobacco towards other crops, racial tensions. Read it for yourself and see.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Perfectly enjoyable but unremarkable. The angle of Latino immigrants in North Carolina made it more intriguing for me, though that was not explored very much (and there was far less racism and antagonism in a small southern town than you would expect). The mystery is about who killed and dismembered a landowner. The narrative itself is slow, with plenty of forays into Deborah Knott's personal life and extended family, some of which is interesting and some of which is not. There is one very unreal Perfectly enjoyable but unremarkable. The angle of Latino immigrants in North Carolina made it more intriguing for me, though that was not explored very much (and there was far less racism and antagonism in a small southern town than you would expect). The mystery is about who killed and dismembered a landowner. The narrative itself is slow, with plenty of forays into Deborah Knott's personal life and extended family, some of which is interesting and some of which is not. There is one very unrealistic twist toward the end regarding grandfather and grandson, which served to explain what otherwise was a red herring.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    These kind of feel like they have shifted from Deborah Knott mysteries to Dwight Bryant mysteries over the last couple of books. We're getting all the details from Dwight; following him and his deputies around as clues about the case are being gathered. And then Deborah swoops in somewhere at the end and puts all the pieces together for them because some key piece of information has fallen in her lap. Not necessarily a bad thing, since Dwight is also a great character, but definitely has changed These kind of feel like they have shifted from Deborah Knott mysteries to Dwight Bryant mysteries over the last couple of books. We're getting all the details from Dwight; following him and his deputies around as clues about the case are being gathered. And then Deborah swoops in somewhere at the end and puts all the pieces together for them because some key piece of information has fallen in her lap. Not necessarily a bad thing, since Dwight is also a great character, but definitely has changed the timbre of the series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Judge Deborah Knott has her plate full as usual, but so does new hubby, chief deputy Dwight Bryant, after a pair of legs are discovered in a ditch. Dwight’s workload multiplies when more limbs are found, along with the body of a senior who’d gone missing from a retirement home. It’s been many years since I read a Margaret Maron novel and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed her style. The writing is informal, yet sophisticated. Every sentence flows beautifully into the next. I especially liked the wa Judge Deborah Knott has her plate full as usual, but so does new hubby, chief deputy Dwight Bryant, after a pair of legs are discovered in a ditch. Dwight’s workload multiplies when more limbs are found, along with the body of a senior who’d gone missing from a retirement home. It’s been many years since I read a Margaret Maron novel and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed her style. The writing is informal, yet sophisticated. Every sentence flows beautifully into the next. I especially liked the way Maron incorporates everyday family life into the story. She reaches the heart of her characters in simple, intimate ways and portrays a large family who—despite disagreements—get along. It’s not something I often see in mysteries these days. For a serious novel that is a blend of police procedure and amateur sleuth, Hard Row is a bit light on conflict and suspense. The only real tension in Deborah’s life comes from problems with her young stepson Cal. Although Deborah knows the killer through her work, there’s no other interaction between them. Still, the lack of a suspenseful buildup to revelation of the killer’s identity didn’t dampen my enjoyment of this book. I look forward to reading more of Maron’s eloquent prose.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Owlsinger

    "Real folks with real issues" read the entry on the Reader Review Comments in the back of my library copy of this book. Perfect summation of this whole series; except for the murders happening around Judge Knott's neck of the woods, with regularity, these characters could be people we all know. Not counting miscellaneous body parts turning up all over town, I can relate to all of them. The parts showing up make this one a tad grislier than most in this series, but it's a good read. "Real folks with real issues" read the entry on the Reader Review Comments in the back of my library copy of this book. Perfect summation of this whole series; except for the murders happening around Judge Knott's neck of the woods, with regularity, these characters could be people we all know. Not counting miscellaneous body parts turning up all over town, I can relate to all of them. The parts showing up make this one a tad grislier than most in this series, but it's a good read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tory Wagner

    Hard Row by Margaret Maron is part of a series featuring Deborah Knott, a judge with a large extended family who often finds herself in the center of a mystery. In this one, mutilated body parts are found in the countryside and Deborah and her husband, a police captain, are drawn into the mystery.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Toller

    Judge Deborah Knott is presiding over the equitable distribution of property for a divorce when one of the parties fails to show. Very soon the sheriff's department gets calls for different body parts. How Deputy Dwight Bryant solves the mystery of the body parts with Deborahs help makes a great story. Another great addition to the series. Judge Deborah Knott is presiding over the equitable distribution of property for a divorce when one of the parties fails to show. Very soon the sheriff's department gets calls for different body parts. How Deputy Dwight Bryant solves the mystery of the body parts with Deborahs help makes a great story. Another great addition to the series.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rela Edwards

    Before you go As usual Margaret Maron has kept me reading until the book was finished. In this book Maron shows the plight of migrant farm hands, which is very apropos in today's political climate. Before you go As usual Margaret Maron has kept me reading until the book was finished. In this book Maron shows the plight of migrant farm hands, which is very apropos in today's political climate.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily Higgins

    Body parts are found over several days scattered in different areas. Judge Deborah Knott is learning to cope with Dwight’s son living with them after his mother was murdered. Meanwhile, Dwight has his hands full as lead detective trying to solve the body part case.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary Baker

    I liked this novel by Margaret Maron. I like the characters of Deborah and Dwight and their friends. I wasn't able to solve the murder in this novel, but I will admit that all of the plot strands tied together in the end. This has been a good series. I liked this novel by Margaret Maron. I like the characters of Deborah and Dwight and their friends. I wasn't able to solve the murder in this novel, but I will admit that all of the plot strands tied together in the end. This has been a good series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Camilla Harry

    Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series just keeps getting better with every book I read. Glad there are still more in the series. But I sure wish she would have kept going with it. Course I'm not sure how she managed to come up with all the scenarios as it is. I sure couldn't. Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series just keeps getting better with every book I read. Glad there are still more in the series. But I sure wish she would have kept going with it. Course I'm not sure how she managed to come up with all the scenarios as it is. I sure couldn't.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Val

    Good but sad 😞. I'm not going into a lot of details but Mayleen got the short end of the deal in this one and I really started to like her. I'm hoping the next book is nicer to her. I really am enjoying this series. 😊 Good but sad 😞. I'm not going into a lot of details but Mayleen got the short end of the deal in this one and I really started to like her. I'm hoping the next book is nicer to her. I really am enjoying this series. 😊

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    This was one of the gorier stories of this series but it was spellbinding!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hinge Head

    Decent holiday read

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