Home » Margaret Maron, Acclaimed Mystery Writer, Dies at 82

Margaret Maron, Acclaimed Mystery Writer, Dies at 82

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She grew up in Greensboro and Pleasant Grove Township, N.C., and graduated from Cleveland High School in Johnston County. Although over the years she took courses at branches of the University of North Carolina, Brooklyn College and the City University of New York, she completed no degree.

While working in a summer secretarial job at the Pentagon, she met Joseph John Maron, a naval officer. They married in 1959. After Mr. Maron served a three-year tour in Italy, they settled in Brooklyn, and Ms. Maron started to write.

She was initially drawn to poetry, but she discovered a hard truth.

“Writing bad poetry is very easy,” she said in the 2012 talk. “Writing good poetry is very hard, and I realized that I couldn’t do it.”

So she turned to writing short stories, with a focus on mysteries, which she had always loved. For a dozen years in the late 1960s and ’70s she had considerable success selling stories to the numerous mystery magazines of the day. When those periodicals started going under, she expanded one of her short stories into book length, changing the main character from male to the female Sigrid Harald along the way.

“My first novel grew out of my experiences working in the art department at Brooklyn College and watching the way the acids and photographic chemicals were mishandled,” she told The Chronicle, the campus newspaper at Duke University, in 2011. “There was a poison cabinet that anybody could get into.”

“And so in the novel,” she continued, “I put potassium dichloride into a professor’s cup of coffee.”

That was “One Coffee With,” the first of the 10 Harald novels. (She wrapped up the series in 2017 with “Take Out.”) In creating her female detective, Ms. Maron sought to break what she saw as a pattern in crime fiction of male crime solvers surrounded by expendable female characters.

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