Death’s Half Acre Review
Click here to buy posters
In Association with
Over the years, I’ve lived in cities of all shapes and sizes—from tiny towns to booming metropolises. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about people in small towns, it’s that they generally have a whole lot more to hide than city folk do—or at least they try extra hard to keep their secrets hidden. You see, in small towns, everyone seems to know everyone else’s business—and no one wants to be the one to ruin that perfect small-town image.

That’s definitely the case in Colleton County, North Carolina—where just about everyone has something to hide. And when a county commissioner apparently kills herself, leaving behind a cryptic note suggesting that she was involved in some shady business dealings, everyone starts to wonder what she’d been hiding—and who else was involved.

As Judge Deborah Knott does some digging into the commissioner’s secrets, it becomes clear that the woman’s death wasn’t a suicide after all—and Deborah’s husband, Deputy Dwight Bryant is called in to investigate. Before the case is closed, you can bet that all kinds of deep, dark secrets will come spilling out.

Like Rita Mae Brown’s Santa Clawed (which also takes place in a small town), Margaret Maron’s Death’s Half Acre has a kind of cozy charm—but with an edgier, updated twist. Things aren’t all coffee breaks, church potlucks, and PTA meetings in Colleton County; there’s something much darker running underneath the county’s day-to-day life. And while the commissioner’s murder may be the main focus of the story, there’s much more going on in this cozy southern county. Deborah has a few deep, dark secrets of her own—and so, it seems, does her old moonshine-running father, Kezzie.

Since this was my first Deborah Knott mystery, I had a bit of catching up to do—especially where the characters were involved. Fortunately, Maron provides a small Knott family tree—though it only includes Kezzie, his two wives, and the resulting children and grandchildren. There are so many cousins and other distant relatives, though, that I often felt confused—caught up in a tangle of Knotts, so to speak. And then there are the various townspeople—the politicians and businesspeople and other characters. I’m sure that many of them have popped up in previous novels—so regular readers will already be familiar with them. But I, on the other hand, felt like a bit of an outsider in Colleton County.

Still, Death’s Half Acre tells an interesting story about a small town that’s struggling to stay small. The mystery, too, will keep you on your toes—and there are so many possibilities that you probably won’t be able to guess what really happened until the pieces come together in the end.

It may not be a thrilling, fast-paced adventure, but Death’s Half Acre definitely isn’t your grandma’s fluffy fireside mystery, either. And while newcomers may feel a bit lost at times, it still makes for a cozy, casual read.

Submissions Contributors Advertise About Us Contact Us Disclaimer Privacy Links Awards Request Review Contributor Login
© Copyright 2002 - 2018 All rights reserved.