Cover image for Uncommon clay
Uncommon clay
Maron, Margaret.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
288 pages ; 24 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



The dark earth in the piedmont of North Carolina's Randolph County is heavy with bright red clay. And it is this same rich soil that attracts many of the South's most skilled potters. Also drawn to this region is the visiting judge Deborah Knott, who is there for decidedly different reasons. Deborah faces the most exasperating case a judge can handle--overseeing the equitable distribution of marital property. The antagonists are James Lucas Nordan and Sandra Kay Hitchcock, both potters who are bitterly divorcing after almost twenty-five years of marriage. As creative as it was stormy, the Nordans' history together produced great artistic achievements. Much of the credit for this stellar legacy can go to Amos Nordan, James Lucas's father and the proud clan patriarch. At the same time, old Amos is no stranger to tragedy. Two years earlier, his more talented son, Donny, apparently committed suicide . . . in a manner so scandalous that Amos still can't bear to speak of it. Suddenly, amid the pettybickering, an even more gruesome death strikes the Nordans. Violence, seemingly borne out of Providence, stalks the family homestead as the sins

Author Notes

Margaret Maron grew up in rural North Carolina. She attended college for two years before a summer job at the Pentagon led to marriage, a tour of duty in Italy, than several years in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to North Carolina. She is the author of the Sigrid Harald Mystery series, the Deborah Knott Mystery series, Bloody Kin, and Last Lessons of Summer. Bootlegger's Daughter won the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best Mystery in 1992. "Up Jumps the Devil" won the 1996 "Best Novel" Agatha award. "High Country Fall" was nominated for an Agatha Award in 2004 and also picked up a Macavity nomination the following year. "Three-Day Town" won the 2011 Agatha Award for "Best Novel". "Long Upon the Land" won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel of 2015.Margaret is a founding member and past president of sisters in Crime and of the American Crime Writer's League; She is a director on the national board for Mystery Writers of America.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The "bright red clay" of eastern Randolph County, North Carolina, is the setting for Maron's latest Deborah Knott mystery; the pottery that local artisans create using that clay and the relationships linking those artisans to each other and to their clients are its subjects. Judge Deborah Knott heads to Randolph County to supervise the equitable distribution of marital property in two divorces. The central case involves her with the Nordan Pottery clan: aging patriarch Amos; his talented son, Donny, deceased under suspicious circumstances several years ago; loyal if less talented son James Lucas and his soon-to-be ex-wife Sandra Kay, a gifted pottery "decorator"; and the family that operates the neighboring Rooster Clay Works--Sandra Kay's brother Dillard; his wife Betty, Amos Nordan's daughter; and their children. Much is shattered at Nordan Pottery--relationships, assumptions, expectations--and Deborah cannot prevent more deaths within this troubled family. As for Judge Knott herself, the book opens with an explosive end to her affair with game warden Kidd Chapin and includes an abortive new-relationship seduction scene that readers will chuckle about for months. (Hint: costumes judicial and prophylactic play key roles!) Uncommon Clay is a solid addition to the Knott series: a believable mystery blending humor and social issues with an empathetic understanding of the complexities of family life. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this eighth book in the Judge Deborah Knott series (after 2000's Storm Track), Maron employs spare, straightforward prose and the languid language of the Carolina Piedmont to spin an exceptionally gripping tale of hate, jealousy and murder. Still smarting from the betrayal of her lover, Kidd Chapin, the redoubtable jurist travels to Randolph County, N.C., in order to settle the equitable distribution of the marital property of a pair of freshly divorced potters, Sandra Kay Nordan and James Lucas Nordan. Before she can finish her legal duties, however, somebody bakes James Lucas in a kiln. Deborah's own sense of loss in the wake of Kidd's rejection helps her empathize with patriarch Amos Nordan's multiple tragedies (another son died two years earlier) as well as a hired woman's grief over her retarded son. Amidst a beautifully evoked flowering spring countryside, Deborah pursues the murderer with her usual keen eye and common sense. If the book fairly swells with passion, a healthy dose of Southern humor keeps things from getting too maudlin. By the time the story reaches its dramatic conclusion, readers will be in mourning, wishing the end hadn't come so soon. Maron's mastery of jurisprudence, her well-researched depiction of the potting world but especially her sensitive portrayal of human relationships raise this novel far above the ordinary run of mysteries. (May 22) FYI: The first Knott novel, Bootlegger's Daughter (1992), won all four top mystery awards the Edgar, the Anthony, the Agatha and the Macavity. Maron, who's also the author of the Sigrid Harald series, will be the guest of honor at this year's Malice Domestic Convention. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The famous Nordan family, who live in an area of North Carolina known for its pottery, is being torn apart by a traumatic and bitter divorce. Judge Deborah Knotts (Storm Track) oversees distribution of the marital property, but her work is interrupted by a tragic death in the family reminiscent of a terrible suicide two years earlier. Heady stuff from a talented author. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.