Black Opal Books
January 14, 2017, $14.50
Series: Witherston Mysteries, #3
The mayor of the north Georgia town of Witherston and one of its prominent attorneys are being blackmailed by a mysterious Donna Dam, who threatens to expose the two men's shameful activities of forty years ago if they do not take a paternity test and pay a hefty sum of money, and if Mayor Rather does not withdraw his proposal to build a dam, creating a lake on top of a sacred Cherokee burial ground. Blackmail leads to murder, and when Detective Mev Arroyo and her two teenage twins investigate, they discover some dark secrets, putting all their lives in danger...
Other Witherston Mysteries:
2. Fairfield’s Auction
Betty Jean Craige, Author of Dam Witherston: A Witherston Murder Mystery
(Black Opal Books, 2017)
I decided to write a murder mystery one day in July of 2013 when the Athens Banner-Herald discontinued my weekly column "Cosmo Talks" about my African Grey parrot and other intelligent animals. With that column, and with my first non-academic book Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot, I had discovered the joy of telling stories that gave readers pleasure. So I would do the same in my murder mystery: give readers pleasure and a puzzle to solve.
I invented a small town named Witherston in the beautiful north Georgia mountains and set my murder there. And I invented a two-hundred year history for a wealthy family, the Withers, who gave their name to the town, which I set twenty miles north of Dahlonega. The Withers were all descended from Hearty Withers who found gold in Dahlonega in the 1828 Georgia Gold Rush and won forty acres of land in the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery. In 2015, the last of the line, a rich centenarian named Francis Hearty Withers, dies mysteriously after revealing the contents of his will. He has planned to bequeath $1 billion to the four thousand residents of Witherston and another $1 billion to the town itself. He requires only that the town support a pharmaceutical factory that manufactured Senextra, a longevity drug with unexpected side effects.
I realized I had written the first book in a series when I saw its cover: Downstream: A Witherston Murder Mystery (2014).
My second Witherston murder mystery, Fairfield's Auction (2016), features the same eccentric Witherstonians as the first. It begins with the sale of remnants of the Cherokee civilization that occupied north Georgia and Western North Carolina for a thousand years before the whites banished most of them to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in the winter of 1838-39. There is a blizzard in the novel, hundreds of chickens liberated from a chicken truck stranded on the icy highway, an African Grey parrot named Doolittle, and a Cherokee village.
My third mystery, Dam Witherston (2017), is a tale of blackmail, interracial rape, and murder in the present with connections to similar acts in 1977 and 1828, when intercourse between Cherokees and whites was considered an abomination in the racist South. DNA ancestry tests disclose unlikely kinships.
I write not about what I already know but about what I want to learn. And I write to make readers think, smile, and occasionally laugh out loud.
Dr. Betty Jean Craige is University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. She has lived in Athens, Georgia, since 1973.
Other works by BJ:
Downstream Black Opal Books, 2014
Lorca's Poet in New York: The Fall into Consciousness. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977
Literary Relativity. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1982
Reconnection: Dualism to Holism in Literary Study. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988 (cloth and paper) Winner of Frederic W. Ness Award
Laying the Ladder Down: The Emergence of Cultural Holism. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992. (cloth and paper) Winner of Georgia Author of the Year for Non-fiction
American Patriotism in a Global Society. SUNY Series in Global Politics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 (cloth and paper)
Eugene Odum: Ecosystem Ecologist and Environmentalist. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001. (paper edition, 2002)
Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Santa Fe: Sherman Asher Publishing, 2010. Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Silver Award (Category Pets) (2011)
Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot. Red Planet Audiobooks, 2010
Parola di Papagallo (Italian translation of Conversations with Cosmo). Mediterranee, 2013
Betty Jean Craige, Executive Producer, Producer, Writer, Translator, with Alan Stecker. Alvar Suñol: His Vision and His Art (42-minute documentary). Atlanta: ASV, Inc., 2006. First Place in Short Documentary competition at Indie Gathering film festival, Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2006. Aired on Georgia Public Broadcasting on June 17, 2007, at , and thereafter
Betty Jean Craige, Executive Producer, Producer, Writer, Translator, with Alan Stecker. Conversation with Alvar (17-minute promotional video). Atlanta: ASV, Inc., 2005
Dr. Betty Jean Craige has published books in the fields of Spanish poetry, modern literature, history of ideas, politics, ecology, and art. She is a scholar, a translator, a teacher, and a novelist. http://www.bettyjeancraige.com/