Originally published in hardcover (left) by Mysterious Press, 1992. Paperback version (middle) published 1993 by Warner Books. Ebook edition (right) published by Maron & Company, 2012.
Winner of the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards for Best Novel of 1992.
Deborah Knott was expected to be a conventional little girl and eventually a conventional woman, worshipped on a pedestal by a conventional husband.
Instead, she became an attorney, infiltrating the old boy network that still rules the tobacco country of Colleton County, North Carolina. Some say her success is a sign of the New South, but no one knows better than she the power of the past—her family’s long history in the area is a major asset in her campaign for district judge. Then again, as the strong-willed daughter of Kezzie Knott—notorious bootlegger, ex-con, and political string-puller—history is also one of her greatest problems.
But it’s an episode from the more recent past that threatens to derail her campaign. As a teen, Deborah used to babysit little Gayle Whitehead for her mother, Janie. One rainy spring day eighteen years ago, both mother and daughter disappeared. When they were found three days later Gayle was dehydrated, dirty, and hungry...and Janie was dead. The unsolved murder became a local legend and an enigma that continues to haunt Gayle, who now begs Deborah to investigate.
With no real faith in her investigative skills, Deborah asks a variety of questions on her campaign tour of the county’s rallies—and soon her attention is distracted from the hurly-burly of politics by troubling new evidence. Deborah now faces the realization that the disadvantages of being the single female candidate in a southern judgeship race, and even the disadvantages of being Kezzie Knott’s daughter, are nothing in comparison to posing a threat to a successful murderer...
Planning to make Bootlegger's Daughter the topic of your next bookclub discussion? Click the icon for a reader's guide to aid the discussion. But be forewarned: This discussion guide may contain revealing information about the mystery.
Critical Praise for Bootlegger's Daughter
"Introduces savvy Deborah Knott . . . the country air encourages the plot . . . and proves healthy for characters hiding their thoughts in the insidious subtlety of Southern manners." (New York Times Book Review)
"Impressive . . . the bootlegger's daughter has made quite a stylish debut." (Wall Street Journal)
"A fine start to a promising new series." (Kirkus)
"A master of the mystery/suspense genre as her Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards attest...Margaret Maron has penned an original masterpiece of a read with 'Bootlegger's Daughter'. Decidedly and unreservedly recommended for community library collections." (Midwest Book Review)
"This is a gem of a novel, shrewdly plotted and rich in evocative detail . . .Bootlegger's Daughter should have readers hungry for more Deborah Knott Mysteries." (Baltimore Sun)
"I love Deborah Knott . . . She's smart without being brittle, good without being sanctimonious. She's tough, brave, funny and flirty." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Dramatic and satisfying . . . So rich in detail and description of the New South that you can almost hear the North Carolina twang and taste the barbecue. Sassy, savvy, attorney Deborah Knott introduces us to a colorful cast of characters." (Houston Chronicle)
"Accurate and funny . . . poignant and realistic . . . a strong, wonderful, absolutely do-not-miss novel." (Atlanta Journal/Constitution)
Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Margaret Maron
12 June 2018 podcast