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Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite
Dead Tree Tales by Rush Leaming is about a lot more than a dead tree. It’s a mystery. It’s a crime story. It’s a thriller. It’s a powerful comment on today’s society and politics. But as a lover of nature, I loved how Leaming paid homage to the magnificent old tree and acknowledged its importance to the community. The way the author used the tree to frame the story was clever and certainly added interest. Rush Leaming is clearly an experienced and accomplished author. His skill is well evidenced in Dead Tree Tales, a novel that is fast-paced, full of action and intrigue, and populated with characters who feel as real as your neighbor or best friend and who challenge you to reassess your deepest beliefs on topical issues such as racism, materialism, equality, terrorism and ‘Trumpism’.
Although Leaming cautions that Dead Tree Tales contains ‘strong language, violence, sexual situations, and depictions of racism, and is not for the faint of heart, I found nothing that I consider would offend the average reader. The strong language and descriptions of sexual situations were authentic reflections of the characters and handled with admirable discretion. Violence was mentioned only as necessary in the context of the story, and I suspect it would be difficult, if not impossible, to write a crime story without describing acts of violence. Depictions of racism were, I thought, well balanced and offered a realistic representation of the varied views that exist in society today. In fact, I found the counterbalance of views and reasoning enlightening, and I believe the story influences positive and empathetic attitudes.
Leaming says the idea for Dead Tree Tales grew over a period of years, and I would be surprised if he hadn’t engaged, during those years, in significant research. His knowledge of tree surgery impressed and the detail of how experts sought to save the tree was fascinating. He describes the subject matter as dark, yet says he enjoyed writing it. Though it was very different in flavor from the kinds of novels I typically enjoy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. And I would not hesitate to give it the highest recommendation. Anyone who enjoys a great crime story or thriller should love it. It’s a real page-turner and just a fantastic read.