Fairfield's Auction

A Witherston Murder Mystery

Fiction - Mystery - Murder
284 Pages
Reviewed on 05/03/2016
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Author Biography

I grew up in El Paso, went to Pomona College for a B.A. in Spanish Literature and to the University of Washington for an M.A.and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, spent a formative year in Madrid, and then came Athens, Georgia, to join the faculty of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. All that was a long time ago. After thirty-eight happy years at the University of Georgia, I retired in 2011 as University Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. I live with a smart, talkative, funny African Grey Parrot named Cosmo, about whom I wrote the book Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot.

In retirement I began spending time in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia, where the thousand year-old Cherokee civilization, the Georgia Gold Rush and Land Lottery of the 1820s, the moonshine business of the 1920s, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan all left their mark on the present. I wanted to introduce this part of our country to readers elsewhere, so I invented a town called Witherston, north of Dahlonega, and began writing mysteries situated there.

In my Witherston Murder Mystery series I wrote Downstream, about the pharmaceutical pollution of our natural environment, and then Fairfield's Auction, Dam Witherston, and Saxxons in Witherston.

I wrote the unrelated suspense thriller Aldo to explore genome modification.

    Book Review

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.