Leaming’s wholly entertaining latest introduces readers to the fabulous setting of Charleston, SC, and the surrounding islands and an endearing pair of thoroughly accomplished detectives. Detective Charlie Harper and Detective Elena Vasquez are called in to investigate the poisoning of a celebrated 1000-year-old tree on the island, but the stakes rise after they find a severed finger crusted in blood at the site. As they begin their enquiries, shocking secrets unravel, bringing new revelations to light. With the tree dying fast, the detectives must get to the bottom of the case soon. The taut, meticulously observed narration, which alternates between Charlie and Elena’s investigation of the case and the characters’ individual stories moves at a measured pace. The enduring friendship between Charlie and Elena adds to warmth. The meticulous detail and expert characterization keep the readers immersed while Leaming throws in several surprising twists as the narrative builds to a startling finale. Brilliantly plotted and filled with authentic police procedure, this compelling mystery profoundly contemplates the intricacies of romantic and familial relationships, friendship, individual struggles, anger and resentment, and issues of racial disparity. Fans of finely crafted whodunits will be pleased with this entertaining mix of character study and detective work.