*** Honorable Mention in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards
*** Honorable Mention in the Reader Views Literary Awards in the category of Mystery/Thriller
*** 5-Star Review from Readers' Favorite
***Distinguished Favorite in Independent Press Award
***Distinguished Favorite in 2020 NYC Big Book Awards
On Labor Day of 1968, four Ku Klux Klansmen murdered a young black graduate of Witherston High School and raped his white girlfriend. On Labor Day of 2018, in the same north Georgia community of Witherston, Crockett Wood—a leader of the white supremacist Saxxons for America—is shot to death in the outhouse of his dilapidated hunting cabin. A week later the torch-wielding Saxxons invade Witherston to block the town's designation as a sanctuary city.
What is the connection? A love story?
Saxxons in Witherston is not only a murder mystery. It is an account of white supremacism in the South, and it is a history of Atlanta's struggle to overcome it, a history told by Allie, who disappeared into Atlanta after Tyrone's death and joined the civil rights movement to make a better world for her biracial child.
Betty Jean Craige's Saxxons in Witherston (2019) is the fourth Witherston Murder Mystery, in a series set in the fictive town of Witherston in the north Georgia mountains.
Click here for a sneak peak at Saxxons in Witherston.
Saxxons received a 5-star review from Readers' Favorite.
"It is one thing to imagine a sophisticated plot and another thing to be able to write it to the satisfaction of readers. Betty Jean Craige has achieved both. In this mystery, readers are pulled into an investigation that is intense, following quirky characters through emotionally engaging scenes. It is fast-paced and told in a voice that is arresting. From the very beginning, the author intrigues readers with a crime scene—the murder of Crockett—and introduces the lead detective, Mev. I enjoyed the dialogues right from the beginning and the protagonist’s flair for interrogation. Saxxons in Witherston: A Witherston Murder Mystery catches the attention of the reader and sustains it through each page. It is well-crafted and the plot so ingeniously developed that each chapter compels the reader to turn to the next."
Saxxons received the following review from Chanticleer.
"In 1968, Tyrone Lewis was murdered by KKK members for daring to love Allie Camhurst, a white preacher’s daughter. Tyrone and Allie had secretly been dating for months, and when Allie discovered she was pregnant, the two planned to elope when four men in white robes and hoods stabbed Tyrone and raped Allie. Fearing for her life, Allie escaped her hometown of Witherston, Georgia, and began a new life with a new identity.
"Fifty years later, Witherston is again the scene of what appears to be a racially-motivated murder, but this time Crockett Wood, a member of a white supremacist group known as the Saxxons, has been shot to death. The killing comes hard on the heels of a controversial decision by the Witherston town council which recently voted to make Witherston a sanctuary city, taking in and aiding illegal aliens by refusing to cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and drawing criticism both within and without. This small town becomes split along racial lines, and tensions boil over as the past and the present collide when Dr. Charlotte “Lottie” Byrd, a retired college professor, opens her own investigation into Tyrone’s case and finds its twisted connection to Wood’s recent murder.
"The fictional town of Witherston, Georgia, is an American patchwork quilt of diversity, and racism plays a prominent role. From a native Cherokee village to same-sex couples who call the small town home, Witherston is a celebration of heterogeneity, a microcosm for modern America. Though the majority of citizens feel their community is advanced and forward-thinking, it becomes clear that prejudice is not dead when the Saxxons threaten the town – mirroring events occurring in America in recent times. As the threats become more vicious, the Witherstonians must decide whether to let the hate of some overwhelm the lives of all. A clear message emerges in the attitude of characters like Lottie, Beau Lodge, and the Arroyo twins. Despite the hate-spewing white supremacists, the townspeople band together and choose happiness and unity over fear and factions.
"Lottie’s nephews, Jaime, and Jorge Arroyo, and their friend Beau Lodge are the true champions of the novel both literally and figuratively. As biracial millennials, these seventeen-year-olds represent all that is good in ignoring racial distinctions and, instead, celebrating those differences. The boys are smart and clever and most importantly, courageous in the face of prejudice. It is through that bravery that the culminating events occur.
"Saxxons in Witherston is sure to find its audience among those who enjoy history, as the author has done her research, and fans of the Witherston Murder Mystery series."
Saxxons received the following review from Kirkus.
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.