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Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite
Fairfield’s Auction: A Witherston Murder Mystery by Betty Jean Craige is a murder mystery set in the town of Witherston. All is not well in the town of Witherston. Long ago the Cherokees were cast from their land, their belongings claimed by the white man, and now they are being auctioned off as treasure for thousands, lining the pockets of the rich whilst the Cherokees are left unable to reclaim their heritage. Fairfield’s auction is such an event, with countless treasures sold to the highest bidder, and those who protest and request respect for their own history, such as the Cherokees living in Tayanita village, are cast out. So many weapons, from tomahawks to blowguns, but the final item certainly raised a few eyebrows, a live African Grey parrot by the name of Doolittle. Stressed and unloved, stuck in a small cage, he finds himself sold like property to one of the only people present who believes animals too have souls, Dr Charlotte (Lottie) Byrd. This parrot can talk, its words betraying the neglect it suffered. In the meantime, a mysterious person known only as Alpha has requested the ‘kidnapping’ of this bird, and this is where the real trouble begins. The town is snowed in, the roads in and out are blocked by a storm fallen tree and an 18-wheeler. Everything is at a standstill, and during this time it seems more dastardly deeds were afoot. The next day, two bodies were discovered. Was Alpha’s scheduled abduction of Doolittle part of the plan? Who had the most to gain by the death of the two citizens, and what were their motives?
I do enjoy a good murder and Fairfield’s Auction: A Witherston Murder Mystery has no shortage of suspicious deaths and intrigue. Betty Jean Craige presents the case in a rather unique way, using articles from Webby Witherston, the online paper, alongside a dialogue driven narrative to lay breadcrumbs for the reader to follow, and most are very subtle. There is a very real feel to the plot and characters. I particularly liked the twins, Jorge and Jamie, and found the small bedtime chatting routine, which appears a number of times, very endearing. Whilst a murder mystery, it also touches on social issues, especially relating to the acquisition of property, land, and the expelling of the Cherokees. Betty Jean Craige combines history, culture, and differences of opinions, drawing them into the plot in a manner that never once seemed biased towards one view or the other. With interesting developments and unexpected twists, this book won’t fail to grab your attention.