By Margaret Maron

Grand Central Publishing, November 20, 2012 ($25.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0446555821

Reviewed by Joan Leotta

This Thanksgiving, include Margaret Maron on your list of things for which you are grateful, specifically her newest book, THE BUZZARD TABLE that is to be released right before our November holiday of season of thanks and turkey.

Maron is a master at the craft of series writing. She manages to keep her main characters fresh and find new ways to use the setting to allow the crime/mystery flow into their lives without stretching our credibility. At the same time she succeeds in steadily increasing our affection for the folks that make up the case of regulars. This is the eighteenth time I have met Judge Deborah Knott and various members of her family. I have worried through her romance and marriage to the old friend of her brothers, Bryant — the town sheriff — and now the relationship with her stepson. Each time I close one of her books I have the enjoyment of participating in the solution to a cleverly laid out puzzle and the sadness of leaving a visit with dear friends.

The rambling physical, historical and cultural landscape of fictional Colleton County NC often plays a strong support role in the tale. The role of tradition is strong in this book, but with Maron it is always her people who are at center stage. Hers is the kind of novel even a non mystery lover will enjoy because she writes deftly about humans, their motives, their foibles, and finds time to always celebrate some part of the human condition even in the midst of sorrow. Despite the fact that this is the eighteenth in the series, she never takes the easy way out as a writer. Every sentence is carefully crafted and propels the story along the path to a surprising and satisfying end.

I'll leave you to find out who gets killed, what members of her family help, how Sigrid Harald once again fits into the story and how the side issue with Knott's stepson wind up. Tantalizing aromas of plots and subplots arise at the first page and the feast continues all the way to the finely crafted end.

Maron's book however is a feast worth celebrating at any time! She tantalizes and dazzles with a chef's flourish at every turn. Once again we are treated to a double portion of happiness — both of her renowned heroines take part in resolving the mystery. Although Maron is not too graphic about the diet and habits of buzzards, and I do have more respect for their role in the environment after reading her book, the diet of these creatures is somewhat less than appetizing.

Maron's excellence as a writer is exceeded only by her humility. She thanks her writers group for aid given, along with the usual acknowledgements for those specialists who contributed to the facts about buzzards, paintings, and other issues that contribute to the mystery.

Buon Appettito, Amici — THE BUZZARD TABLE is another great read from Margaret Maron, an award winning author who never rests on her laurels.

This book is scheduled for release on November 20, 2012. You may pre-order it now from your favorite online book source.

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