Murder usually begins at home, and Colleton County, North Carolina, proves no exception. When truck driver and childhood neighbor Dallas Stancil is shot and killed in his own backyard, Judge Deborah Knott figures she owes his memory at least the respectful ritual of taking his widow one of her Aunt Zell's best chicken casseroles. Mistake Number One. Dallas wasn't rich, but with development eating up the farms and forests of North Carolina his land is suddenly worth a fortune. His trashy, chain-smoking third wife and grown stepchildren are all too aware of its value. Opportunistsincluding one Deborah's own brothers - are coming out of the woodwork. And she knows big money makes people do bad things. Hardworking, redneck, and salt-of-the-earth, the Stancil men have lived side-by-side with Deborah's family. When the Stancils suffer another tragedy, a long-hidden skeleton rattles its bones and jumps out of what she thought was her long-dead past. She can run the culprit back out of town or maybe get him charged with murder, but ignoring him would be Mistake Number Two. All around the changing South, Deborah sees hunting dogs, rowdy funerals, backwoods moonshine stills, and long-bed pickups clashing with BMW-driving professionals and housing tracts. With one foot in the rural past and the other in today's high-tech present, she knows her personal world is changing too. This bootlegger's daughter sits on the judicial bench and sees both sides of the law. But she also feels the tug of her roots...and the pull of her heart.