The Witherston Murder Mysteries

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, 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…

Betty Jean Craige, author of Dam Witherston and other Witherston Murder Mysteries

on the history behind her mysteries

Cherokees lived there for a thousand years, in north Georgia and western North Carolina, before the white settlers discovered gold. That was in 1828. In the early 1830s Georgia distributed the Cherokees’ land in forty-acre lots to winners of the Georgia Land Lotteries. When the Cherokees exhibited their anger, they were removed from their land and force-marched—on the Trail of Tears—to the area now called Oklahoma.

This is the history of my state that underpins the stories I tell in the Witherston Murder Mysteries.

I set Downstream, Fairfield’s Auction, and Dam Witherston, the first three novels in the series, in a small town I called Witherston, twenty miles north of Dahlonega, Georgia, where Hearty Withers (1798-1841) panned for gold, won the land lottery, and got rich. Hearty Withers and his wife Penance begat Harold Francis (“Harry”) Withers in 1830, after which Hearty died at the hands of a Cherokee. Harry went to the University of Georgia briefly, was expelled, married Patience Gray, begat Withers Francis (“Witty”) Withers in 1858, and founded the town of Witherston in 1860. Harry did not have to serve in the War Between the States because he paid a young man to take his place. Witty Withers and his wife Obedience begat Hearty Harold (“HaHa”) Withers in 1881 and Hearty’s sister Penance Louise Withers in 1900. In 1930 Penance Louise Withers eloped with Mohe Kingfisher, a Cherokee. Witty disinherited her for marrying a Cherokee Indian, so the couple moved to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. HaHa Withers begat Francis Hearty Withers in 1915. Francis Hearty Withers, having turned his inheritance into several billion dollars, died mysteriously over Memorial Day weekend at the age of one hundred to the benefit of four thousand Witherstonians.

This fictional genealogy is based on historical events that I researched: the rise and fall of the Cherokee civilization, the Georgia Gold Rush, the Georgia Land Lotteries, the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Georgia’s miscegenation laws. I began creating the genealogy when I wrote Downstream, in which centenarian Francis Hearty Withers is murdered. I continued developing it when I wrote Fairfield’s Auction, in which Cherokee artifacts are sold to the highest bidder. I filled in details when I wrote Dam Witherston, in which Witherston’s mayor proposes to build a dam over sacred Cherokee burial ground. Dam Witherston features three murders: one in the present, one in 1977, when the Toccoa dam broke, and one in 1828. All of them involve interracial rape and pregnancy.

The past resides in the present. That is the common theme of my mysteries. And what pleasure I’ve had in populating the past with eccentric but credible characters!

About The Author

Dr. Betty Jean Craige is University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. She has lived in Athens, Georgia, since 1973. Her first non-academic book was Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot (2010). After retiring in 2011, she published a column about animal behavior in the local paper titled “Cosmo Talks” and began writing fiction. Her Witherston Murder Mystery series, set in north Georgia, includes Downstream (2014), Fairfield’s Auction (2016), and Dam Witherston (2017).

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New suspense from Crooked Lane: No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

>>> Enter to win a print copy of NO TURNING BACK by Tracy Buchanan (U.S. Only) <<<

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.

Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.


About The Author

Julie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sisters in Crime (SinC). She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency.

Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. Learn more about Julie at


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Cover Reveal: Protocol by Kathy Valenti

Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.











































Protocol by Kathy Valenti will be available
September 5 from Henery Press!!

Book will be available for pre-order June 12!!

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Celebrating 5 Years of Style and Error with Cement Stilettos by Diane Vallere

>>> Enter to win a complete set of Samantha Kidd Humorous Mysteries <<<

Forget the cannoli. Take the shoes!When newly engaged amateur sleuth Samantha Kidd discovers the body of a mafia princess dead in fiancé and shoe designer Nick Taylor’s showroom, her questions are so numerous she’d need a bookie to keep track. The victim’s ties to local organized crime are unexpected. Nick’s apparent vow of silence makes Samantha question the vows in their future, and despite past promises, all bets are off. Wise guys and leopard ladies keep her busier than a consigliere during tax season, and if she can’t keep her head above water, she’ll end up sleeping with the fishes.

Books in the Humorous Samantha Kidd Mystery Series:
“Just Kidding” (short story)

Perfect for the beach, the bath, or the line outside of the fitting room.
(and way more fun than shopping for bathing suits under fluorescent lights.)

National Bestselling Author brings you fashion, mystery, and humor in one stylish package.
Get to know Samantha Kidd today!

Diane Vallere is a former fashion buyer turned mystery writer, trading fashion accessories for accessories to murder. She writes the Samantha Kidd, Madison Night, Material Witness, and Costume Shop Cozy Mysteries. She started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.

The Samantha Kidd Mystery Series features former fashion buyer turned amateur sleuth Samantha Kidd. Books in that series include DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY; BUYER, BEWARE; THE BRIM REAPER; SOME LIKE IT HAUTE; GRAND THEFT RETRO; PEARLS GONE WILD; and CEMENT STILETTOS (June 2017). (A short story, “Just Kidding,” tells the story of how Samantha first met shoe designer Nick Taylor.)

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8 (9?) Unusual Romance Novel Genres

According to Mental Floss, chaste Amish romances are out; Amish vampire erotic thrillers are in. As are mermaids, cavemen, aliens, and NASCAR drivers.

And then there’s the limited-edition fast-food-themed romance:

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Who is your favorite fictional professor?

The Chronicle of Higher Education wants to know: Who is your favorite fictional professor?

Fictional characters exhibit some of the distinct qualities — whether weird, malicious, or magical — of real-life instructors. So we want to know: Who is your favorite fictional professor?

To respond, fill out this form. The Chronicle of Higher Education plans to share the responses in future coverage.

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New Ex-Nun Cozy: The Clock Strikes Nun by Alice Loweecey

>>>Enter to win an e-copy of The Clock Strikes Nun<<<

When terrified Elaine Patrick knocks on Driscoll Investigations’ door and insists her house is haunted, Giulia Driscoll’s first response is “we don’t handle ghosts.” When Elaine’s housekeeper and crackpot filthy rich cousin descend on Giulia and demand she find out who’s trying to steal sweet, fragile Elaine’s family business out from under her, that’s a different story. They want DI to provide Tarot readings, ghost hunting sessions, and even an exorcism.

Ghost hunting? There are apps for that. Tarot readings? Experts in the skill are right across the street. Exorcisms? Having a priest for a brother-in-law comes in handy. Giulia plunges into a crash course in all things supernatural, convinced everything happening to Elaine is stagecraft.

Except when it isn’t. Giulia’s about to discover a new dimension to sleuthing, if she can survive attempted murder long enough to see through the web of lies around her client.

Island Confidential: Alice, welcome back to Island Confidential! For our new readers, and those who need a little refresher, can you tell us a little about your protagonist Giulia?

Alice Loweecey: Giulia Driscoll is an ex-nun, now married and running her own private investigation agency. She grows her own vegetables, cooks from scratch as much as she can, and is expecting her first baby. In other words, she’s a multitasking kick-butt woman.

How much of you is in Giulia?

AL: Only a little of me is in Giulia. I’m an ex-nun and I grow veggies and cook from scratch, but it ends there. Giulia is much nicer than I am. She’s also a bit more tightly wound than I am. She never cusses, ever. If we met in person we’d probably share recipes and argue about the merits of the Catholic Church, since she’s still a member in good standing and I walked away a long time ago.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

AL: Definitely yes. Giulia is much more comfortable in her own skin than she was a few books ago. She has more confidence and even makes jokes. Her assistant Sidney has mellowed a bit with motherhood but not enough to eat processed foods. Some things don’t change! Her admin Zane was a scared genius rabbit when Giulia hired him. Now he’s going undercover and interacting with humans instead of computer screens.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

AL: Hahaha, no. Karma. I will admit to disguising a few people in my books to make unpleasant things happen to them.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

AL: Absolutely true to life. My books take place in a made-up suburb of Pittsburgh, but my friends in the Pittsburgh area always help me with details. Giulia uses modern equipment and methods and I spend an inordinate amount of time researching. I love research.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

AL: Oh, from your lips to Hallmark’s ears!
Giulia: Cobie Smulders
Frank: Alan Tudyk
Sidney: Christina Milian
Zane: Paul Bettany

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

AL: The worst: “Don’t write strong female characters. They make male readers uncomfortable.” The best: “It’s okay if the first draft is crap. Get the story on the page. You have coffee and edits after you write The End.”

About the Author


Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer Horror and Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which might explain a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Falcone-Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

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New Country Club Murder Mystery: Watching the Detectives

>>>Enter to win an ebook by Julie Mulhern!<<<

Ellison Russell wanted a decorator, not a corpse. Too bad she finds Mrs. White in the study killed with a revolver. Things go from bad to worse when she finds Mr. White in the dining room killed with a candlestick. With so many bodies, is it any wonder Detective Anarchy Jones’ new partner considers Ellison a suspect?

With the country club gossips talking a mile a minute, an unexpected cocktail party, a visit from Aunt Sis, and a romantic decision, Ellison hardly has time to think about murder. Unfortunately, the killer has plenty of time to think about her.

Guest Post by Julie Mulhern

The world has changed.

Hardly news. But…

The Country Club Murders are set in the 1970s and recently, I blithely wrote about a get-together party to watch a basketball game on television. After all, there’s a basketball game on television at least eight months of the year. Right?


Not in 1975. There were three stations with prime-time line-ups. That was it. No ESPN. Sports viewing was limited to weekends and Monday nights.

The world has changed.

In 1975, phones had cords.

In 1975, the national speed limit was 55 mph.

In 1975, you’ve come a long way, baby was somehow meant to be empowering and smoking was a dieting trick.

In 1975, no one texted, Facebooked, posted on Instagram, tweeted, or blogged.

In 1975, if a mother wanted to know where her ten year-old was, she stepped out on the front stoop and yelled, “Julie, come home!” And Julie went home.

In 1975, Casey Kasem counted down the hits on a list that included Elton John, Glen Campbell, the Rolling Stones, and Abba.

In 1975, the term “domestic violence” was freshly coined and the abuse that term represented was little understood.

In 1975, it was widely (erroneously) believed domestic disturbance calls were the most dangerous type for responding officers. Perhaps that explains their usual response—telling men to cool off and instructing women not to upset their husbands.

In 1975, I was eight years-old. Aside from phone cords, being called home when my mother wanted me, and Casey Kasem, the seventies that appear in the Country Club Murders is based on research not memory.

I’m curious, what are your memories from the 70s?

About The Author  

Julie Mulhern is the USA Today bestselling author of The Country Club Murders. She is a Kansas City native who grew up on a steady diet of Agatha Christie. Julie spends her spare time whipping up gourmet meals for her family, working out at the gym and finding new ways to keep her house spotlessly clean is an expert at calling for take-out, she grumbles about walking the dog, and the dust bunnies under the bed have grown into dust lions.

Julie Mulhern


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A new Blossom Valley Mystery: Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin

>>>Enter to win a paper copy of Marriage Is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin (U.S. Only)<<<

Wedding bells are ringing at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa in California’s postcard-perfect Blossom Valley. The entire staff is pitching in to send one of their own down the aisle. But no one knew the nuptials could turn up so many secrets—or that marriage and murder could go hand in hand . . .

Dana Lewis is marrying Jason Forrester, a talented reporter and the love of her life. She couldn’t dream of a better venue than the farm where she works, and her friends are determined to give her the wedding of her dreams. Even her florist, Bethany Lancaster, is making sure she has just the right flowers. But Dana’s happiness wilts when she finds Bethany shot dead—and discovers her friend was a busybody with a blackmail list longer than a cathedral veil. With so many enemies, finding Bethany’s killer seems all but impossible. And when Dana herself is eyed as a suspect, she’ll have to chase down the culprit faster than she can say, “I do”—or she’ll be trading in her wedding dress for prison stripes.

Island Confidential: Staci, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Dana Lewis?

Staci McLaughlin:  Dana is in her late twenties and living on her own when she is unexpectedly laid off from her marketing job in the San Francisco Bay Area. She finds herself moving back to the small Northern California town where she grew up. Now she has to put her life back together and rethink her career while living with her mom and annoying younger sister.

How much of you is in Dana?  How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?

SM:  Dana is a lot like me. We share the same core values and interests. She tries her best, even when she doesn’t always succeed, and values her family. I think Dana and I would have a lot of fun together, especially since we both love junk food!

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

SM:  Yes, definitely. Dana starts out a little uncertain about where her life is headed in the first book, but in each progressive book she starts to gain confidence in both her career and her personal life. Similarly, her younger sister Ashlee, who is an absolute brat in the first book, matures somewhat as the books progress.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

A:  Not yet! I’ve heard of writers doing that, but I can’t think of anyone I have ever been so mad at that I would wish them dead, either on the page or in real life.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

SM: Blossom Valley is a fictional town, but it is loosely based on Ukiah, a real town in Northern California where I grew up. The population of Blossom Valley is considerably smaller, and the town more closely resembles the Ukiah of my childhood rather than today, but it has the same atmosphere and kinds of people. One thing I like about using a fictional place is the flexibility. I can create a new business at the spur of the moment if needed or add other features that are important to the plot.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

SM: I love how you say, “when”! I think Jennifer Lawrence would be a good pick for Dana, since Dana is mostly practical but can also be a bit goofy. Ryan Reynolds would be great as Dana’s love interest, Jason.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

SM: The best advice I have ever received was to just keep writing. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you get. When I make sure to write every day, it’s much easier to get into the proper mindset and come up with ideas. If I don’t write for a week or longer, it can take me a day or two to get back into the rhythm.

I guess the worst advice would be to write what you know. If I were to stick to only what I know, it would be a very short book! Plus, one of the fun aspects of writing is doing research and learning about new topics. I love to then share that information with the readers.

About The Author

Staci McLaughlin graduated from the California State University, East Bay before becoming a technical writer for a number of years. Now she is a stay-at-home mom and a cozy mystery writer in my spare time (Ha!). Once she can wrangle the kids into bed, my husband and I enjoy watching scary movies and playing both board games and video games.

She is currently a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, as well as a contributor to the LadyKillers blog. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Character interview: Mrs. Odboddy, Undercover Courier

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.

Island Confidential: Mrs. Odboddy, welcome back to Island Confidential! Would you mind introducing yourself to our new readers?

Agnes Odboddy: My name is Agnes Agatha Odboddy. I live with my granddaughter, Katherine, and my Siamese cat, Ling-Ling. Generally I keep busy volunteering, and keep my eyes open for Nazi spies. I’m sure you know every citizen must be on the look-out for miscreants and conspiracies that try to undermine the war effort.

During WWI, I worked as an undercover agent for the USA. That’s why Colonel Farthingworth thought it would raise less suspicion to have me carry this package to President Roosevelt, since we’re headed to the Capitol anyway. We plan to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island Tour.

Katherine and I will cross the country by train from California to Washington. Now you mark my words. I fully expect to deal with Nazi agents along the way, as I’m sure the package contains secret war documents.

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

AO: Katherine is my late son’s daughter. After she lost her fiancé at Pearl Harbor, she moved in with me and went to work as a beautician at Curls to Dye For. She also does the hair and make-up at the Whistlemeyer Mortuary. She has beautiful red hair like me. And no…I don’t dye my hair…. Only fast women and European spies dye their hair. I keep my natural color by freshening it with a special henna shampoo.

Which character do not get along with so well?

AO: Once we get on the train, it becomes fairly obvious that fancy-man, Irving, is a Nazi spy and after my package. The only way he’ll get it is over my dead body! Katherine says that’s what she worried about, but he doesn’t scare me. I brought my WWI service pistol and I know how to use it. Now, if I can just remember which suitcase I put it in…

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author Elaine?

AO: She’s the cat’s meow! Literally! I’m not her first literary fictional creation, you know. She wrote three cozy cat mysteries before the Mrs. Odboddy series. She writes a pretty good story…long on humor, adventure and mystery…as long as I keep telling her what to say.

What’s next for you?

AO: My third adventure is already completed. Mrs. Odboddy –And Then There Was a Tiger, to be published sometime next year. Yes. There is a real, live, breathing tiger, and he plays into an exciting tale of counterfeit money, a county fair, and someone determined to destroy Mrs. Odboddy’s stellar reputation. If I only knew who was behind it…but in the meantime, I know you’ll enjoy a hysterical romp across the country with me as I match wits with a train full of suspicious characters.


Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. She lives in No. Calif with her husband and four house cats (the inspiration for her three humorous cozy cat mysteries, Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel).
Mrs. Odboddy’s character is based in no way on Elaine’s quirky personality. Two more Mrs. Odboddy adventures will publish in the near future. Many of Elaine’s short stories have appeared in magazines and multiple anthologies.

Keep up with Elaine:

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