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In 1968, Dr. John Branion was found guilty of murdering his wife in their posh Chicago home. After exhausting his appeals, he evaded authorites by fleeing to Africa. He was finally captured in 1983—but his case was far from over. It would take another seven years for Dr. Branion to prove that he was innoent—and that those who prosecuted him had known it all along.
Freelance reporter Cat Marsala has done lots of tough investigative pieces lately. Now she would like something a little softer—and a feature story on Christmas tree farming sounds ideal. She’s thrilled when Henry DeGraaf, president of the West Michigan Evergreen Growers Association, invites her to spend Thanksgiving at his family farm north of Holland, Michigan, where she can observe the Christmas tree industry up close. With only seven hours of daylight, the work is intense, the team spirit legendary.
Cat receives a warm welcome at the DeGraaf farmhouse, especially from DeGraaf’s twelve-year-old niece, Nell. Grandmother DeGraaf prepares delicious old Dutch dishes, and Great-Aunt Clara shares with Cat letters written by the first DeGraaf to settle in Michigan. Cat is impressed with the history and tradition of the family, but it’s not long before she discovers the terrible tensions that permeate the household. …[more]