Margaret Maron has written two sets of detective novels which feature female protagonists. Slow Dollar is one of her series featuring Deborah Knott which take place in South Carolina. Deborah is a lawyer who becomes a judge in the first of the series, Bootlegger’s Daughter. In the state in which she lives judges are elected rather than appointed so Deborah’s life revolves around continual political campaigning, her extended family, court cases and murders with which she becomes involved. Deborah lives in a very male world, for example she has eleven brothers, a beloved elderly father, and her best friend is the local Sherriff’s Deputy.
In this book a body is found at the local travelling fairground which is known as a carnival. The author uses the opportunity to contrast Deborah’s life with that of Tally who lives and works with the carnival and who, it turns out, is a relative. The story involves the fair attractions and the way of life of the carnival people but also the money which can be made by buying the contents of storage units after the renters cease to pay. It is an interesting and engaging plot and the solution to the mystery is not very obvious.
This is a light and easy read. Deborah and her family are gentle companions, not all good but not all flawed. The court cases Deborah hears are an interesting punctuation to the plot and Deborah spends quite a lot of the book wishing for a companion to share her life. The author balances all these things and makes it look effortless. If you are looking for a new crime series, towards the cosy end of the market, I highly recommend this one.