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by Margaret Maron

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-446-55580-7
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

The even darker aftermath to the accident that claims the life of a Colleton County teen.

Mallory Johnson, homecoming queen, honor student, irresistible flirt and drug- and alcohol-free paragon, crashes her car and dies. Then her secrets begin to come out. The autopsy finds a drug in her system. When Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant begins investigating, he learns that the much-beloved Mallory had a few detractors, including her half brother Charlie and all the girls in town whose boyfriends she dallied with. And then the no-account Wentworth brothers, Jason and Matt, are gunned down at their trailer. Are the deaths connected? Mallory’s poor mom, who lost her first husband to a fall while he was fixing the roof, is devastated, but Malcolm, her second husband, is truly overcome: His “princess” is gone. Meanwhile, Christmas, a mere two days away, will bring the one-year anniversary of Dwight’s marriage to Judge Deborah Knott. But their celebration will have to wait till Mallory’s last cell message is studied, a cheerleader’s mea culpa is scrutinized and Charlie is tracked down at his birth father’s house. The resolution adds one more fatality to the mix and upgrades an accident to murder.

Maron (Sand Sharks, 2009, etc.) makes you yearn to belong to an extended family, bake Christmas cookies with the Knott nieces and nephews and climb into Dwight’s arms. She plots like a modern-day Christie, but the North Carolina charm is all her own.