SHOOTING AT LOONS
Originally published in hardcover (left) by Mysterious Press, 1994. Ebook edition (right) published by Maron & Company, 2012.
Margaret Maron has garnered both the praise of critics and the raves of satisfied readers for her award-winning Deborah Knott series. The Indianapolis News notes that a Deborah Knott book is “more than just a mystery; it is a portrait of a place.” The Houston Chronicle compares Maron’s rich description of central North Carolina to the writings of Sarah Orne Jewett and Kate Chopin. And the Raleigh News & Observer gets it exactly right when it says that the series is “like pecan pie. It leaves you wanting more.”
Now, in SHOOTING AT LOONS, we follow Judge Deborah Knott to the state’s lush Crystal Coast, where expensive yachts ride at anchor…and murders wash in on the “Down East” tide.
Asked to sit in for a hospitalized judge in gracious old Beaufort, Deborah hopes to spend a restful week at her cousin’s nearby Harkers Island cottage; but her very first clamming expedition turns up the corpse of a well-known fisherman in the shallow waters. Discovering the body puts her right in the middle of the fight between the locals who have long made their living from the sea and the new tide of well-to-do “dingbatters”: weekenders and land developers who view the coast as their personal playground and gold mine.
Deborah soon realizes that the centuries-old way of life in this isolated corner of the South is as endangered as loons and sea turtles, and the fisherman’s murder is clearly tied to the coming changes. On the bench and off, she can feel the rage and fear and greed these changes arouse.
Even so, sipping her bourbon in the fresh salt air proves beneficial for Deborah’s soul, and life at the beach takes a definite upswing when she meets a game warden who’s hunting for loon poachers. Not until a second murder occurs and a lover from her past becomes a suspect does Deborah realize she’s up to her own neck in intrigue—and dangerously close to a killer . . .
Critical Praise for Shooting At Loons
“What makes this novel special is Maron’s ability to bring this web of conflicts to subtle, vivid life.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Maron constructs a tight mystery, peoples it with an original cast and powerfully evokes her Outer Banks setting.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Her Carolina characters are enchanting, but for recreating the Old South, no one tops her evocations of lavender blossoms, salty sea air, and wisteria that is ‘drop-dead’ gorgeous.” (Chicago Sun-Times)
“Maron writes in a quietly ecstatic manner about the natural beauty of her sea-swept setting and the eccentricities of its insular residents, whom she calls ‘prickly as sea urchins and suspicious as hermit crabs.’” (The New York Times)
"Maron evokes environments with great detail and insight . . .it is not superficial and the reader gets to know the town and the social gradations very well." (Los Angeles Times)
"Deborah Knott is no alienated Philip Marlowe. She is a modern, believable, single professional woman with a blind spot or two, small vanities, intelligence to spare, and a self-mocking voice that quickly endears her to the reader. Knott's costar . . .is North Carolina herself, which Maron renders with the considerable humor, affection, and clear-eyed understanding she brings to her heroine." (Atlanta Journal/Constitution)