Death's Half Acre
Candace Bradshaw runs one of Colleton County's most successful cleaning services. It had been started by her ex-husband and now she runs it for both of them. She also is the chairperson of the Colleton County board of commissioners and may be nominated to fill the empty slot if the current Republican congressman becomes a state senator. She is getting ready for the board of commissioners' meeting when she lets a colleague in her home while she is getting ready. The next day her body is found, an apparent suicide that is quickly determined to be murder.
Judge Deborah Knott is one of the many who wonder what happened. Her husband, Dwight Bryant, is the county detective investigating and not telling her anything. Her curiousity is high but she continues with her daily work, keeping tabs on Dwight's case at the same time.
The farmland in Colleton County is prime real estate as the county turns to more and more housing developments. The country farming culture clashes against the city and suburb culture moving in. Some of Deborah's cases are results of the conflict. Candace Bradshaw was one of the shakers and movers in getting more real estate turned over the housing developers. Her mantra was "more roofs". She also seemed to have information that the sheriff's department can't locate on a flash drive. Was she using information to blackmail certain people to help expedite real estate sales? When her daughter is found dead, that seems to be possible.
Margaret Maron knows how to craft a mystery. Death's Half Acre leads the reader through, keeping the facts there but shadowing them enough to keep the reader guessing. The side story with Kezzie Knott is also fun and leading. Deborah's concerns about her father appear valid but Kezzie is still wiley despite his age.
The Deborah Knott mysteries are an excellent series of novels. Death's Half Acre fits in although not as strong as some. The book also brings out the culture clash that continues to happen as urban sprawl spreads out further to accommodate the population growth. It's an ongoing problem that Margaret Maron wants her readers to be aware is happening. She tells us with a deft touch.
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations
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