Destiny’s Review of “Death in Potter’s Woods” by Betty Jean Craige

By: Destiny Constantin

*I received a free copy of the book from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for my honest review.

It is a captivating murder mystery novel full of history, plot twists, and charming characters with wandering minds that lead them on a hunt to find Robin Hood.

Story Synopsis:

What is a Georgia mountain town to do when “Robin Hood” threatens to kill its Mayor and a citizen or two if three thousand Witherstonians don’t donate $5,000 each to rectify the theft of gold and land from the Cherokees two hundred years ago?

Some folks donate. Others take their chances.

One person dies in Potter’s Woods. The mayor survives an attempt on her life.

Police Chief Mev Arroyo and her sons Jorge and Jaime discover that Potter’s Woods, occupied by the Cherokee people for a thousand years until the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery, is the site of two murders. And that Robin Hood, “feared by the bad, loved by the good,” is connected to both.


Death in Potter’s Woods is a spellbinding murder mystery novel that will keep your eyes glued to the page and your head spinning with all of the plot twists. The story’s beginning is circled around the author Tabby Grammer, who visits the Town of Witherston to share the meaning of her book, Paving Gaia. Paving Gaia is a novel that surrounds the meaning of treating Earth with kindness and respect in order to appreciate the good things in life and what nature gives us. Ms. Grammar is an environmentalist who wants to help the people of Witherston to save Potter’s Woods, but some of the people believe she has a different motive.

Potter’s Woods is the center of four separate storylines, and each of them is tied together, making a thrilling mystery. Betty Jean Craige is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Georgia. She is the author of many books, including Conversations with Cosmo: At Home with an African Grey Parrot and the Witherston Murder Mystery series. Death in Potter’s Woods is the fifth book in the series but can be read as a standalone, as I have only read the fifth book out of the series. She is a new author for me, but I love a good cozy mystery novel, and mysteries are what I love to read and write. I enjoyed reading this book from the first page to the last, but I had a little bit of trouble understanding how the events in the story connected with Robin Hood. Death in Potter’s Woods is full of adventure, suspense, a historical family feud, and town secrets. It reminded me of a mystery book I read a while ago titled Mrs. Peabody’s Party Line by Marianna Heusler and watching an episode of Murder She Wrote.

One of my favorite aspects of reading Mrs. Craige’s novel is it’s centered around a historical feud between two families. The town of Witherston is named after gold digger Hearty Withers. He won a plot of land during the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery, and the city was built on the ruins of the Cherokee village Tayanita. In 2015, when Mr. Francis Hearty Withers, the great-great-grandson of Hearty Withers, passed away, he divided his riches to each man, woman, and child who lives in the Town of Witherston. The mysterious Robin Hood felt like the Indigenous People were mistreated and that their land property was stolen from them. With the traditional tale of Robin Hood taking from the rich to benefit the poor, he requested 3,000 of Francis Hearty Withers’s beneficiaries each contribute $5000 of the inheritance to the Indigenous Peoples Reparations Initiative. If the beneficiaries do not contribute, Robin Hood will murder Mayor Rhonda Rather and the people who do not donate.

With Robin Hood watching over the town, there is another threat occurring in Potter’s Woods. Mr. Thomas Tankard, a property developer, wants to cut down Potter’s Woods, sell the timber, and use the proceeds to finance his project of building a retirement community. The Town of Witherson could benefit from a retirement community for the elderly residents. Still, does it have to be built on historic land, where many trees provide beauty and natural air for the community? A young woman named Annie Jerden protests and makes a home in the branches of the eldest tree, “Big Yellow,” to block the development.

The story takes an attention-grabbing, disturbing turn when the old Gertrude Withers school building is set on fire with a famous writer inside. This fire was on purpose because artifacts and bones were buried in the school’s basement, and to stop the writer from finding out the truth. Then, the mayor is in a distressing car accident. Chief Arroyo has her hands full, trying to figure out the person who is portraying Robin Hood and if all the events that take place are connected. With the help of the residents of Witherson and her sons, Jamie and Jorge, Chief Arroyo solves the mystery.

This story is full of twists and unforeseen turn of events. My mind was racing, trying to figure out how all of the climatic events connected, especially when a specific character visited Witherson in the middle of the story. I kept thinking about it so much that I had to tell my mom what was happening to get her insights. I feel that there were too many incidents, but they all made sense once I finished the book. The fire and the mysterious letters brought excitement to the story and the bewildering element of a good mystery story. Each character was crafted exceptionally and all had their own personalities and quirks to bring the town of Witherson alive. Witherson is warm and pleasant but full of people who had no problem sharing their opinions and making sure their voices were heard in the online newspaper. The snippets of the online newsletter were a unique aspect and allowed the reader to learn the residents’ opinions and read Robin Hood’s letters. I enjoyed them very much. It gave the book a distinguishable touch.

If you are curious about who Robin Hood is and who caused all of the uprises in the town of Witherson, you will have to pick yourself up a copy of Mrs. Craige’s Death in Potter’s Woods. This story is perfect for cozy mystery lovers who love to follow the clues to learn who is the person behind the crime.

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