Margaret Maron is a renowned writer from the United States who is popularly known for her mystery books. She has written a series of books mainly using two characters to solve mysteries in her series namely Sigrid Harald and Deborah Knott. This paper compares the way the two characters and their differences and similarities in the way they solve crimes. The comparison will mostly be based on two books written by Margaret Maron, being Hard Row (2007a) that stars Deborah Knott and Death of a Butterfly (1984b) with Sigrid Harald. The two characters are different in the way they solve crimes, the nature of their investigations, and the tactics employed. A major difference in the two characters is as a result of their occupations as Sigrid is a Lieutenant while Deborah is a Judge. However, both of them aim at eradicating crime in their area of jurisdiction, which they always do successfully. They do proper investigation and analyze it accordingly to get the criminals, and make sure justice is served.
Sigrid had been used as a character by Margaret Maron for fourteen years in her series but in Death of a Butterfly (1984b) it had only been one year since she first appeared. The book starts with a murder of a young mother, Julie Richmond, who was brutally killed and left on the kitchen floor. However, the woman had a dark side, and after her demise, she left a huge burden on her family and friends. Julie had crossed a lot of people in her life, and as a result she had earlier received some threats. She used to be dishonest in her deals, which she mostly did with people who had criminal records. After some investigation, Sigrid discovered that there were several people who had a motive to kill Julie. The later had an ex-husband who they had several disagreement because he wanted to marry his new girlfriend, who was pregnant. Julie also had some neighbors who were jealous of Julie’s having a son for they were childless. They spoilt her son with gifts and attention that Julie herself could not accord to him. The murdered woman’s brother was also a suspect since they were not in good terms for a long time, and he had become violent towards her on countable occasions. As a result, Sigrid had a lot of work to do to gather information from all the suspects and narrow it down to the real killer. This is a similarity which Sigrid has with Deborah, the investigative judge from Hard Row (2007a). They always do a thorough investigation that leads them to a list of criminals, and then they narrow it down. Their mode of investigation is also similar; they mostly do it by asking questions from the people around the victim, who are mostly the culprits. Sigrid had a friend named Oscar Nauman who begun acting in an unusual manner after the murder went public. He would take her for dinner, help her in shopping for groceries, and even take her to the museum (Maron, 1984b).
Before the whole incident, he never came around that often or even wanted to spend so much time with Sigrid. This caught Sigrid’s attention and she had to investigate more to know what had caused the sudden interest in her life. This came at a time when Sigrid was making a lot of changes in her life including switching houses. She was facing the challenge of managing her job and still maintaining her usual private life. Both Sigrid and Deborah show their private life in their stories, but finally, they manage to balance it with their job, and still stay on top of their game. In Hard Row (2007a), Deborah had just started her new family life with her husband when the case of a murdered farmer came up. Both do not hesitate to take on the cases, and they never lose their focus as a result of their personal issues.
As the investigations were going on, another murder occurred, which shed more light on Julie’s case, and finally lead to the capture of the killer. Sigrid had a strong intuition that she followed and led to his success in solving criminal cases. She mostly worked with her partner, Tillie, although Sigrid’s intuition and intelligence stood out. However, Sigrid does the most work on the case in comparison with her partner. Unlike Deborah, who works hand in hand with her husband to solve the mystery. Deborah mainly comes out as a team player in the cases; when Sigrid does the most of work by herself.
In the book Hard Row (2007a), Margaret Maron combines several short stories into one novel, maintaining the flow and story line. It starts as the star of the book; Deborah Knott had just got a new husband, Sherriff Deputy Dwight Bryant. Deborah worked as a judge, which made her team work with Dwight favorable. They had taken in Cal, who was Dwight’s son after his mother had passed on, and he was living with them permanently. Deborah was just settling to her new family life when a man is murdered brutally in her home town. In Death of a Butterfly (1984b), Sigrid does not have much going on in her personal life as compared to Deborah. The latter has a lot going on in her life including her new husband and step son, who constitute to her new lifestyle. Deborah heard of the murder when in court presiding over a case involving a bar brawl, which resulted from a racism incident. She had noted in earlier cases that the people of Carolina were divided over illegal immigrants, class, and race. The differences were threatening to divide the town and various crimes were reported. The murdered man was a farmer who discriminated his workers, especially the migrants. She decided to take the case and carry out investigations until they apprehend the criminal. Deborah started by gathering information that led her to a number of suspects who were all linked to the murder, with most of them being the undocumented workers in the farm. It seemed like a hard task to even start finding suspects but using her expertise she was able to solve the puzzle (Maron, 2007a).
Mister and Mistress Bryant decided to work together on the case with the police officer Wright. Soon they discovered the other suspects: an undergoing a divorce land owner, and also a racist family who had discovered that their only daughter was dating a Mexican. They also had an elderly gentleman as a suspect as he had escaped from a nursing home a few days after the murder. This is another similarity between Deborah and Sigrid: they start by getting a list of suspects and later gather enough evidence to pin one of them down. Deborah and her husband put their lives at risk too in the course of their investigations as they tried to keep up with their new family life. It is unlike Sigrid, who does not involve the people within her private life in her line of duty. The killer is finally caught in a surprising conclusion in the last short story of the book (Maron, 2007a).
Both Deborah and Sigrid use their expertise to narrow down the lists they got of suspects to one in a captivating manner. They do this through vigorous investigations not ignoring even the slightest evidence. At first, the leads they get, take them close to a person the culprit, but finally it takes a dramatic turn to the real perpetrator. The two characters have amazing investigative skills, and they always see the hidden side of every story. The most suspects are usually two faceted, but they always find the dark side they look for in a criminal, in the most surprising way. They sometimes pretend to believe the lies that suspects tell them as they gather enough evidence to apprehend them.
Even though, the two characters of Deborah and Sigrid are not in the same field, their jobs are similar in that they both aim at eradicating crime in their areas of jurisdiction. They both mostly solve murder cases and not other felonies. Unlike the norm, they apply their intelligence to solve mysteries without using physical force. However, their difference is how they work their way through the available evidence to get the perpetrator among a list of several suspects. Deborah uses team work for successful suspects’ capture, whereas Sigrid mostly uses individual effort to solve crimes, with her partner doing minimal work. During the unraveling of the mysteries, Sigrid does not involve the people in her life in his work while Deborah at a time, put the life of her family in danger as a result of ongoing investigations. Margaret Maron succeeds in coming up with two characters who are in the same line of duty, yet they still maintain their unique identity in their lifestyles and the way of investigation. The two books are captivating and Maron manages to capture the readers’ attention throughout the story.