At 33, Deborah Knott is among the youngest district court judges in North Carolina and only the fourth woman to hold elective office in Colleton County. So she's a New Woman in the New South. But, as Deborah knows (Killer Market, 1997, etc.), the New South and the Old South have excruciating problems in common, a point driven home when within days of each other three black churches are destroyed through arson. To Deborah, the most dismaying aspect of this is the possible involvement of young A.K., one of her beloved nephews. Ratchet that up considerably when as the coals cool, a corpse is discovered in the debris of Mount Olive Church, converting felony--bad enough--to capital crime, punishable by execution. A.K. insists he's innocent, and Deborah believes him, which means it's incumbent on her to find out who's guilty. But there are distractions: the new house she's in the midst of building; the troublesome relationship she's trying to resolve with a beautiful, black district attorney who thinks she's a racist; and, above all, the ever complex--ever amusing--matter of her ten very big brothers, all convinced that Deborah's survival depends on their continual vigilance. Not so, of course. New Woman she may be, but beneath that tailored blouse beats the oh-so-durable heart of a steel magnolia. A bit leisurely as to pace, a bit thin as to mystery. Still, the characterizations are shrewd and witty enough to make this sixth outing the best yet.