SAXXONS IN WITHERSTON by Betty Jean Craige

SAXXONS IN WITHERSTON

A Witherston Murder Mystery
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In her fourth Witherston murder mystery, Craige (Aldo, 2018, etc.) takes on white nationalism and anti-immigrant fervor.

One day in 1968, in the fictional Appalachian town of Witherston, Georgia, African-American 18-year-old Tyrone Lincoln Lewis and white 18-year old Allie Marie Camhurst were on their way to be married when four members of the Ku Klux Klan stopped their car. Tyrone was killed and Allie was raped, but her body was never found. Now, in 2018, Witherston has a special Labor Day Moonshine Festival approaching. The town council has voted to declare Witherston a “Sanctuary city” for undocumented immigrants. As a result, a fringe white-nationalist group, the Saxxons for America, has begun threatening the town, dropping racist leaflets from a drone. Then there’s a new murder. Sixty-five-year-old Crockett Wood, who uses his old broken-down cabin as a hunting retreat, has been shot dead through the small, half-moon aperture in his outhouse door. Wood, who’s white, had a grandfather who was a KKK member. Speculation grows that the two murders, separated by 50 years, are somehow connected. In this series installment, Craige’s unique ensemble cast features Dr. Charlotte “Lottie” Byrd, a town council member, historian, and columnist for Witherston on the Web. She researches Lewis’ 1968 murder and Camhurst’s disappearance while her niece, police Detective Mev Arroyo, investigates the Wood shooting. Despite the seriousness of Craige’s left-leaning narrative, there are also moments of lightheartedness. For example, Witherston is shown to have moved beyond its reputation as a Prohibition moonshine mecca and is now a New Age enclave of diversity; several 20- and 30-somethings who can claim varying degrees of connection to the Cherokee Nation, have set up Tayanita Village to honor their heritage by living in yurts, raising their own food, and weaving traditional baskets; however, Craige adds, ironically, “But they also had…smart phones, computers, cars, bank accounts, and day jobs.” Lively banter, fun articles from the local online news site, and enjoyably offbeat weather reports lighten the sometimes-preachy tone.

An engaging and often quirky mystery.  

Pub Date: July 6th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64437-149-7
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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