When Judge Deborah Knott is summoned to her ailing Aunt Rachel's bedside, she assumes the worst. Thankfully when she arrives at the hospice center she learns that Rachel hasn't passed; in fact, the dying woman is awake. Surrounded by her children, her extended family, and what seems like half of Colleton County, a semi-conscious Rachel breaks weeks of pained silence with snippets of stories as randomly pieced together as a well-worn patchwork quilt. But the Knott family's joy quickly gives way to shock: less than an hour later, Aunt Rachel is found dead in her bed, smothered with a pillow.
Who would kill a woman on her deathbed? Was it an act of mercy, or murder? As Deborah and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, investigate they cross paths with an unlikely set of suspects: Rachel's longtime minister; her neighbor, the respected local doctor; the friendly single father who often sought her advice; and perhaps the most puzzling party of all, the Designated Daughters, a support group for caregivers that Rachel's own daughter belongs to.
Soon Deborah and Dwight realize that the key to solving this case is hidden in Rachel's mysterious final words. Her mixed-up memories harbored a dark secret-a secret that someone close to them is determined to bury forever.
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Designated DaughtersUser Review - Barbara Hoffert - Book Verdict
In her 19th mystery, Judge Deborah Knott investigates the smothering of her dying Aunt Rachel in hospice and eventually encounters a group of caregivers called Designated Daughters. Read full review
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
Designated Daughters is the latest installment in the Deborah Knott series written by Margaret Maron. This series is the epitome of southern life. Aunt Rachel has suffered a stroke and is in the care of hospice. Judge Deborah Knott and her family are gathered around her bedside. Rachel is rambling on with bits and pieces of stories that do not seem to go together. The family leaves the room to allow Rachel to rest, only to return to a crime scene. Someone has smothered Aunt Rachel with a pillow. Deputy Sheriff Dwight Bryant, Deborah’s husband, begins investigating the murder. Could someone have felt threatened by Aunt Rachel’s rambling stories? Even the Designated Daughters are under suspicion.
The Designated Daughters is the 19th book in this series. While this tale is most definitely a murder mystery, it also explores the plight of children, elderly parents, caregivers, and sibling relationships. It also touches on the high cost of taking care of sick family members. Margaret Maron always brings a satisfying tale filled with mystery and with the ambiance of the old south. In this tale the plot moves back and forth through time. Aunt Rachel was privy to many secrets and one of those secrets threatened someone enough to murder her. As with most of Margaret Maron’s books, this one is character driven. The characters are multidimensional. The plot is, of course, a mystery but it also has a lot of humor mixed in. This is a complex story with several secondary plots. My copy of Designated Daughters is an audio format. It is read by the author.