Margaret Maron Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Margaret Maron has won the hearts of a vast readership and the continuing praise of critics. Her Deborah Knott series started with Bootlegger’s Daughter (1992), which won the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards for best novel. To win all four major mystery and detective fiction awards in the United States was an honor that no other writer had accomplished. She has continued to receive awards for many of her works, including an Agatha Award in 2000 for Storm Track. Before the Deborah Knott series, Maron was already known for her mystery short stories and her Sigrid Harald series. She has also published nonseries detective novels and collections of short stories. She is known especially for her sharp creation of characters, her effective use of dialogue and regional dialect, and her insightful depiction of rural North Carolina.

Maron has been a significant influence on other mystery writers. Following her creation of Judge Deborah Knott, several other series featuring a female protagonist and by southern female writers have appeared. They have benefited from Maron’s model of an independent professional woman who is competent and likeable. Maron also incorporates important social issues in her works, a trend increasingly followed by other writers.

Maron has been an active leader in promoting the mystery genre. She was a founding member of the Carolina Crime Writers Association, serving on its steering committee (1988-1998); president of the international organization Sisters in Crime (1989-1990); president of the American Crime Writers League (1997-1998); and president of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) in 2005. She has encouraged other writers and worked to increase the visibility and prestige of the genre.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Ashley, Michael. Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction. New York: Avalon Publishing, 2002. Overview of the genre and short but insightful biographies and bibliographies, including one of Maron.

Bleiler, Richard J. Reference and Research Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004. Bio-bibliographic citations of authors and annotated lists of other reference works. Contains entry on Maron.

Buchanan, Harriette C. “Sigrid’s Saga: Text, Subtext, and Supertext in Margaret Maron’s Sigrid Harald Series.” Clues: A Journal of Detection 17 (Fall/Winter, 1996): 33-42. Discusses the books in the series with emphasis on character development.

Calweti, John G. “Reregionalizing America: A New View of American Culture after World War II.” Journal of Popular Culture 35, no. 4 (Spring, 2002): 127-144. Includes Maron as an example of creating and changing attitudes toward regional cultures.

Dubose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Contains a brief entry on Maron that looks at her works.

Grape, Jan, Dean James, and Ellen Nehr, eds. Deadly Women: The Woman Mystery Reader’s Indispensable Companion. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998. Short articles by and about late twentieth century writers, including Maron, who writes about the influence of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and gives her list of “The Ten Best Pieces of Writing Advice I Ever Received,” which include to read more and to write more. Pictures and index.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains an essay detailing Maron’s life and works.

Maron, Margaret. Margaret’s Web. Comprehensive and informative author’s Web site. Contains a biography, list of books, and information on Maron’s series characters.