Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Death's Half Acre by Margaret Maron

Death’s Half Acre
A Deborah Knott Mystery, Book 14
Margaret Maron
Grand Central Publishing
August 20, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-446-19610-9

From the back cover:
As family-owned farms and lush fields in North Carolina's picturesque countryside start to give way to shoddy mansions and housing developments, discontent begins to rile the inhabitants of Judge Deborah Knott's beloved Colleton County. Beneath the surface of her seemingly peaceful town, a tide of corruption is rising, and even her strong-willed father might be led down a dark path. In the meantime, the murder of a controversial, high-profile woman commissioner leads Deborah and her husband, Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant, into the shadows of the past, where even the most prominent townsfolk have something to hide, including the honorable judge herself. Intent on protecting those who love her most, Deborah must balance her own concerns with her commitment to justice, and the knowledge that a vicious killer is still on the loose.
My thoughts:
As developers reshape the area of Colleton County, NC, Judge Deborah Knott sees more and more cases in the courtroom caused by those changes. Housing developments coming in mean more people used to city living have to learn to accept and respect the farmlands that back the property in many of those neighborhoods. With so much going on it’s easy to sometimes miss what her family is up to, as is the case with her father, Kezzie Knott. Deborah has no idea what he’s gotten into this time, but whatever it is it can’t be good. Unless she can discover what it on her own she may never know, because he has no intention of talking.

When Candace Bradshaw is found dead, Deputy Dwight Bryant becomes involved with the case. Many of the townspeople are shocked, especially the deceased’s ex-husband. As a business owner and chair of the board of commissioners, power was what Candace was after and she had worked hard to get to where she was. Taking her own life just doesn’t add up. It’s not long before the Sheriff’s office is investigating a murder, rather than a suicide, that sends them on a hunt for a well-hidden item that could contain nearly all of the answers they’re looking for.

This is the fourteenth installment in the Deborah Knott Mysteries. Deborah is a judge who sees her town changing with little she can do to stop the process. Love and protection for her family comes first, and with a killer at large Deborah will do everything in her power to help her husband discover who may have had a secret dark enough for murder. Ms. Maron has built a strong world for her characters and she mixes in murder, mystery, and family values in a comfortable country setting. Death’s Half Acre will appeal to readers who enjoy a good mystery and love a small town atmosphere.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

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