Originally published in hardcover (left) by Mysterious Press, 1993. Ebook edition (right) published by Maron & Company, 2012.
Deborah Knott may have lost the district election, but a bigoted judge's sudden death - and some old-fashioned political horse trading - have won her a governor's appointment. True to Southern form, her swearing-in is followed by a raucous reception that brings out every elderly aunt and cousin in the county.
Unfortunately, Lu Bingham, the force behind WomanAid, is at the reception, too. Not only has she come to collect the leftovers for her daycare center, but she's also there to collect on one of Deborah's more extravagant campaign promises. Before Deborah can say, "If elected..". she is committed to putting her muscle where her mouth was, spending weekends with an all-woman crew as the group attempts to build its first house for a needy single mom.
Old stereotypes die hard. Herman Knott, one of Deborah's numerous brothers, has to be hectored and cajoled before he'll give reluctant permission for his daughter and novice electrician Annie Sue to wire the house. Nor does it help that the county building inspector is a swaggering chauvinist nit-picker who's more interested in scoring with the young women than scoring their work.
Chaos erupts before the house is even half-finished. On the same rainy summer night that Herman collapses on the side of the road from an apparent heart attack, Annie Sue is found battered and half-naked in the deserted structure. Has she been raped? Who left her in that condition? And whose blood is that on Deborah's own hammer?
Dwight Bryant, an old childhood friend (and a bit of a good ol' boy), is a modern and efficient police detective, but it is Deborah who must judge whether dark secrets in her own family have led to murder. And if so, reveal the darker, more troubling reasons why.
Critical Praise for Southern Discomfort
"A born storyteller, Maron combines a lighthearted style, surefooted suspense, and a captivating cast to produce a superior thriller." (San Diego Union-Tribune)
"Maron writes with a wit as tangy as a southern barbecue . . .impressive and sassy entertainment in the first degree." (Nashville Banner)
"[The] reader will be well rewarded . . .by shifting into summertime gear and enjoying the feel of Maron's languid, richly tilled earth . . .Knott's powers are persuasive." (Washington Post)
"A good guide into the soul, charm, and malevolence of the rural south." (Chicago Tribune)