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Originally published in hardcover (left) by Mysterious Press, 1998. Paperback edition (middle) published by Grand Central Publishing, 2000. Ebook edition (right) published by Maron & Company, 2013.

Agatha Nominee, Best Novel of 1998; Macavity Nominee, Best Novel of 1998.

Book Description

Since the first Deborah Knott novel, Bootlegger’s Daughter, swept the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards for 1993, Margaret Maron has brought to life the landscape and people, the history and current concerns of a contemporary South. As akin to Carson McCullers and William Faulkner as she is to her fellow mystery writers, Maron now continues her acclaimed series with a chilling story of suspense: a searing crisis of race and region and other burning issues of the heart.

One place the two Souths—black and white—meet is in Judge Deborah Knott’s courtroom. From the pretty yet aggressive D.A. who requests harsh sentences for her fellow African-Americans to the three white teens caught desecrating a family graveyard with hate slogans, racial bias still tries the soul and tests the sense of justice in Colleton County, North Carolina.

Busy with her reelection campaign and building a new house on land that has been in her family for generations, Deborah has both deep roots and a professional stake in her community. She’s shaken when her nephew A.K. is arrested with a group of vandalizing teens at a local cemetery. Torn between her duty as a judge and her loyalty to her large, close-knit family, Deborah has to decide how far she can go to protect him.

Then the first black church burns.

Determined to investigate the arson in which A.K. has become a suspect, Deborah Knott is quickly swept into the dark undercurrents of prejudice, pain, and betrayal in this rural Southern county. Add to this the sudden arrival of a 1970s black activist-turned-public-figure, the emerging secrets of an angry young woman and the burning of two more churches, and Deborah faces a crisis that will challenge her political acumen, her detective skills, and her core beliefs.

The sins of the past return to forever change the present in Margaret Maron’s most riveting, emotionally moving novel to date, a mystery that involves color and kinship, and the unbreakable bonds of love . . . 


Critical Praise for Home Fires

"Don't let the down-home charms of Margaret Maron's Southern mysteries con you with their coziness. Behind their honeyed accents, the friendly characters in HOME FIRES have plenty of secrets to hide and grudges to settle."  (Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review)

"Maron's whodunit plot is challenging, but it's her unconventional characters, colorful family histories, and an unblinking though certainly affectionate view of the contemporary South that distinguish this well-crafted novel."  (Los Angeles Times)

"As pungent and satisfying as the barbecue dinners its characters so readily consume . . . Maron has a knack for creating full-blooded characters and for outlining the tensions between New and Old Southerners."  (Seattle Times)

"A born storyteller, Maron combines a lighthearted style, surefooted suspense, and a captivating cast to produce a superior thriller."  (San Diego Union-Tribune)

"A sterling variation on the classic mystery and then some, an entertaining yet challenging novel . . . You don't have to be familiar with the other Deborah Knott titles to walk in on her fictional brew of recurring characters and use of regional color."  (Durham [NC] Herald Sun)

"One of the year's finest mysteries."  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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