When Bootlegger's Daughter was published in 1992 it won Dilys, Macavity, Anthony, and Edgar awards. That's an impressive record, so I borrowed the book from the library. I loved it, partly because it takes place in the area of North Carolina where I lived for some years and the author, who lives there also, has the local color perfect. Eating Carolina barbecue (with vinegar) and watching a Durham Bull's game on a warm summer evening, admiring the azaleas and dogwoods, big summer picnics with guests parking in the fields, even the chiggers and midges.
Then I forgot about the book for 20 years until something brought it to my attention the other day and I borrowed it from the library again. And it's even better the second time around. Besides all that local color there is some excellent characterization, especially that of the main character, Deborah Knott, an attorney in a small North Carolina town who is running for district judge.
Eighteen years previously a local woman was murdered and the police were never able to figure out who did it. The cold case was reopened 10 years later with no better results. Now the daughter of the dead woman asks Deborah to find out what she can about the murder.
Deborah knows everybody in town and her family and theirs go back many generations so she knows whom to talk to. As she begins to ask around she discovers some clues that were held back by the police and that might help track down the murderer. But this sleuthing is doing nothing to enhance her chances of winning the judgeship.