North Carolina Circuit Court Judge Deborah Knott (Up Jumps the Devil, 1996, etc.) breezes into High Point just in time for the furniture industry's Market Week--a four-star production that features dazzling displays, nonstop parties, and no room at the inn for anybody who arrives, as Deborah does, without reservations. In her comically desperate hunt for lodgings, Deborah falls in with a loony old bird who introduces herself as Matilda McNeill Jernigan; by the time Deborah learns that the real name of this legendary, addled designer is simply Savannah, her supposed guide to the market has already walked off (in a fog, Deborah can only hope) with Deborah's handbag in exchange for Savannah's own. A scheme to swap bags falls through, but never fear: Deborah catches up with her bag the following day, when it's found next to the corpse of Chandler Nolan--once Deborah's pimply teenaged swain, now the dashing sales chief of furniture manufacturer Fitch and Patterson--who's been done to death with the penicillin tablets from Deborah's bag. Maron never recovers the panache of this quicksilver beginning; the puzzle she poses is so full of walk-ons, serious suspects (a rival Fitch and Patterson salesman, his Chandler-smitten granddaughter, loopy Savannah and her possible illegitimate daughters, Chan's rapacious heirs), and discreet hints of family irregularities that you'll probably be relieved--though Deborah isn't--every time she has to drag herself away from this morass back into her ever-amusing courtroom. An overplotted soufflÃ¢ of a novel, puffed up to the sky with lethal doses of magnoliascented gossip.