Margaret Maron died of a stroke related illness at the age of 82 on February 23, 2021. Born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1938, Maron was a beloved mystery author, most well known for her female led mystery series.
Having loved language ever since she was young, Maron tried her hand at poetry, before finding her niche with mysteries. She began to write short stories, submitting her work to a variety of mystery magazines through the 1960s and 70s. Transitioning with the times, Maron moved on to writing novels when these magazines fell into decline. She extended her earlier work into a novel featuring detective Sigrid Harald and embarked on what would become a career as an award winning mystery novelist.
Her prominent mystery series, the Sigrid Harald mysteries and the Deborah Knott mysteries, became widely popular. Unlike other mystery series, in which women were easily swapped out or thrown away between books, Maron’s series featured women enduring as the lead characters. Maron’s well-known women, Sigrid Harald and Deborah Knott, relied on their own smarts to solve the cases time and again. Despite their different backgrounds and storylines, both characters adeptly navigated many fascinating investigations.
Maron began her Sigrid Harald series in 1981 with the novel One Coffee With. Using one of her previous short stories as a jumping off point, Maron changed the originally male detective to a quick-witted female, Sigrid Harald. A detective with the NYPD, Sigrid investigated cases that ranged from a poisoning in a college art department, to an explosion at an elite cribbage tournament. With her signature no-nonsense attitude, Sigrid featured in a total of 10 mysteries. Ending more than 30 years after it began, Maron completed the final book in the series, Take Out, in 2017.
In a similar fashion, Maron’s Deborah Knott series also proved to be a long running success. Centered instead on a legal aid lawyer turned judge, the Deborah Knott series was set in Maron’s home state of North Carolina. Beginning with the 1992 novel Bootlegger’s Daughter, Deborah Knott appeared in 20 novels that came to reflect the changes occurring in North Carolina through the years. The books addressed issues like racism and domestic abuse, while pulling readers into intriguing cases and tracing savvy detective work.
Maron’s series were not only adored by fans, but praised by critics. Over the course of her career she was recognized with a variety of awards, winning Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, and Macavity awards for her work. Her stories earned her an honorary doctorate from UNC in 2010, a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 2013, and an induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2016.
Beyond an acclaimed body of work, Margaret Maron leaves a lasting legacy on the mystery genre as a woman who excelled at her chosen craft.
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