Faberville bookstore owner Claire Malloy is ruminating over the state of her love life when she gets disturbing news. Elderly Miss Emily Parchester is up a tree. Chained to an old oak, packing a thermos of tea and a gun, the retired schoolteacher is ready to go down with the ship, or rather the tree, before she'll let another historic piece of Farberville be bulldozed in the name of "progress," i.e., developer Anthony Armstrong's condominiums.
With Miss Parchester armed, and therefore dangerous, Claire fears this noble act will end tragically. Unfortunately, it does-when someone murders Armstrong. And suddenly Claire herself is out on a limb: a baby has been left on her doorstep, the child's teenage mom is suspect number one in Armstrong's death, and Claire needs to find the real killer fast. Especially when she discovers Miss Parchester knows more than she's willing to tell . . .