I was extremely sorry to learn last week of the death of Margaret Maron, one of America's leading crime writers and someone whom I really enjoyed getting to know in recent years. Margaret's most famous novel is Bootlegger's Daughter, published in 1992, which won the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity awards - wow! This was the first book in the Deborah Knott series, which ultimately ran to twenty titles.
Before that success, however, she'd written a series featuring the NYPD cop Sigrid Harald. I first became aware of Margaret's name when the early Harald titles were published in the UK n the mid-80s. As I've mentioned, this was a time when I was studying newly emerging crime writers in an attempt to figure out their methods, and Margaret was one of the American writers I looked at. I enjoyed the Harald books and found them instructive. So much so that, as I told Margaret years later, much to her amusement, one of her storylines sparked an idea for a sub-plot (albeit so different that I'm not sure she saw the connection even after she read the book!) in Yesterday's Papers.
I first met Margaret at Malice Domestic in 2005, when she kindly inscribed for me a couple of collections of her excellent short stories, published by Crippen & Landru, but I got to know her better in more recent times, when I was able to attend US conventions more regularly. She was an engaging companion as well as a very entertaining and highly intelligent writer.
Three years ago, Margaret was kind enough to give Gallows Court a very generous endorsement, and I was hugely grateful. I was shocked as well as saddened to hear that she'd died following a stroke, but her books live on and so do memories of a very likeable woman.