Book Review: Death’s Half Acre

Maron’s 14th Deborah Knott novel finds her adjusting to married life with sheriff deputy Dwight Bryant, attempting to build a relationship with stepson Cal and deeply concerned about the changing social climate of rural North Carolina. Developers and land speculators have “discovered” the charms of Colleton County and are cashing in as generations old farms get sold off in the face of rising property taxes.

In the midst of this changing demographic, power-hungry county commissioner, Candace Bradshaw has been busy doling out favors while delving into community members secrets. News of her suicide swept through the county but as Dwight begins looking into the case, it soon becomes clear there is a murderer in their midst. Worse, the murderer may have undisclosed information that could jeopardize Deborah’s job and likely, her future.

Not really a thriller, this frequently slow moving tale is more an exposé on the changing face of rural America as a community is torn by social and economic pressures. Maron also touches on matters of faith as the preacher of a fundamentalist congregation makes a dramatic point of subjugating women. While readers will find his downfall satisfying, many may wonder at the choices made by his long-suffering wife. Knott’s extended family provides ample warmth and issues as well as the opportunity to explore the gray areas of grifting.


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