Death's Half Acre is the thirteenth in Margaret Maron's series of Deborah Knott Mysteries. The backdrop is the play between the old rural ways in Deborah Knott's Colleton County in North Carolina, and the expansion of the suburbs and people who want a piece of its pastoral beauty. Conflicts arise through out the book from these "new people" and those who have deep roots, the developers and others who benefit from growth and the people who want to keep some of the benefits and charms of the old ways. In some of the side stories, a case between neighbors -- one with a chicken killing dog and the other objecting to rooster's crowing, and chickens in her garden -- comes to the Judge's court. Another new person wants to join the old timer's, "Possum Hunt Club".
Against this backdrop is a preacher collecting land, that is increasing rapidly in value, from parishioners for the church, but in his name. The council is considering a permit for a "stump dump" and regulations to slow growth or create "green space", but the head of the council doesn't show. She's found the next day, dead with a suicide note.