In DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS, practically the whole clan shows up at the hospice where Aunt Rachel has interrupted the process of dying to deliver a rambling account of all the things that have been on her wandering mind. It's quite a lovely deathbed aria, narrated in the honeyed accents of the region. But someone must have feared Aunt Rachel might divulge a buried secret because that someone creeps into her room and smothers her with a pillow.
Maron knows how to adorn a solid murder mystery with plenty of ancillary entertainments. But her broader theme involves the way families flourish when they work together for the common good. While there are charming scenes of group projects like building a pond shed and assembling a bluegrass band, the clan members Maron really cherishes are those who devote themselves to caring for the elders of the family. Living saints they are, every last one of them.
—New York Times Book Review