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Literature / Judge Knott

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Get it? Get it? Judge not, lest ye be judged. Judge Deborah Knott is the heroine of a series of award-winning murder mystery novels penned by Margaret Maron, set in the author's home state of North Carolina.

An attorney, Deborah Knott was particularly upset when a racist Hanging Judge destroyed a man's life over a minor offense (making it impossible for him to drive when his livelihood depended on making house calls). She then ran for judge and, with the help of her notorious bootlegger father, achieved it.

She may be the most active judge in history, as each novel revolves around her solving a mystery, facing life-threatening situations, catching the bad guy, and having lots of sex.

    Novels in this series 
  • Bootlegger's Daughter (1992).
  • Southern Discomfort (1993).
  • Shooting at Loons (1994).
  • Up Jumps the Devil (1996).
  • Killer Market (1997).
  • Home Fires (1998).
  • Storm Track (2000).
  • Uncommon Clay (2001).
  • Slow Dollar (2002).
  • High Country Fall (2004).
  • Rituals of the Season (2005).
  • Winter's Child (2006).
  • Hard Row (2007).
  • Death’s Half-Acre (2008).
  • Sand Sharks (2009).
  • Christmas Mourning (2010).
  • Three-Day Town (2011).
  • The Buzzard Table (2012).

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Judge Knott.
  • Author Appeal: The author is a straight woman and doesn't shy away from describing what she likes in her men. One section of a book might well be titled "what I look for in a penis". note 
  • Body of the Week / Mystery of the Week / Victim of the Week
  • Break Her Heart To Save Her: Deconstructed in "The Judgement of Deborah", though it's the brother doing the breaking rather than the lover.
  • Bury Your Gays: One of the victims of the week was a gay man.
  • Daddy's Girl: Deborah is the youngest child and only daughter of a notorious bootlegger with many sons. He was trying for a daughter and it took him a while.
  • Deep South: Averted. Although there are many criminals (including Knott's father), the portrayal is definitely positive. See also, Sweet Home Alabama, below.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Knott's father is a bootlegger much wanted by the law, but he's very proud of his attorney cum judge daughter.
  • Fair Cop: One of Knott's lovers is an attractive cop with a very nice penis.
  • Hanging Judge: Knott's inspiration for getting into politics. A black man gets arrested for driving drunk and the judge revokes his license, with no care that it will destroy the man's business.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Two women have been lovers for years, hiding it from everyone, going so far as to always buy two of the same car so no one will notice when one sleeps at the other's home (One in the garage, one in the driveway).
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Knott has many older brothers, and they will protect her. A much less sympathetic one is in 'The Judgement of Deborah', who lies about his sister's beloved being dead in order to 'protect her' (keep her in town with his friend).
  • Murder-Suicide: Before she is elected judge, a friend of hers tries to kill her brother before committing suicide.
  • Punny Name: Seriously, Judge Knott. When someone tells her "Judge Not, lest ye be judged", she fires back "Is that with an 'N' or a 'K'?"
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Some of the stories reflect things currently having a serious impact on life in the area, such as the serious conflict between environmentalism and fishing in the barrier islands note 
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Like the Deep South, mostly averted. While it portrays the south in a positive light, it still shows some of the darker Truth in Television aspects of life in the south, such as sexism, racism, and homophobia.