Detective Heather Ireland needed an escape from all kinds of heat in Fort Myers, Florida. Franklin, North Carolina offers a beautiful mountain setting, but as problems do, they tag along. Like the price the Romero Cartel has on her head, and two old flames. One she’d like to stamp out, and the other she wouldn’t ignite for fear of burning him. Still, she carries a torch. They both end up on her turf to play the roles they started: Stalker and Guardian.
Grappling with her own infertility, the first case she catches is the horrific murder of a newborn infant. The baby’s mother does nothing but quote scriptures of wrath in response to questions—when she is not catatonic. Detective Ireland delves deep into this family tree and finds that a few branches should have been pruned a long time ago. She aims to do the tree trimming.
Then Sheriff Howard drops four cold cases in her lap. Four missing women who could not have been more different. Four theories for their disappearances. Repeatedly reminded that Macon County “don’t get many murders in these parts”, she begs to differ. No one looked for Erica, thought be a runaway. Lisa’s husband told people “She run off with another man”. Nicole’s heartbreak might have been a reason for her to abruptly leave her teaching job, but Sabrina had a bright future and no reason to run.
So why did Detective Ireland begin to suspect they were all connected?
The investigation leads to a story about a woman whose name means “truth”. She was the first of the seven twisted trees, and the reason for the rest.