“Potter’s Woods,” a novel set in the north Georgia mountains, features two interconnected mysteries: the 1866 murder of Patrick Potter, the original owner of the 40-acre Potter’s Woods; and the 2019 murder of an environmental activist whose book Paving Gaia threatens to block the development of the old-growth forest.
The action develops from this email sent to the community of Witherston:
By midnight on Wednesday, December 25, exactly 3,000 of Francis Hearty Withers’s beneficiaries—that’s 75 percent of Witherston’s population—must each contribute $5,000 of their inheritance to the Indigenous Peoples Reparations Initiative, or Mayor Rhonda Rather will die, along with other beneficiaries who do not contribute.
All of Witherston’s current residents benefitted financially from a crime against the Cherokee Indians that occurred in the early nineteenth century. The theme of “Potter’s Woods” is the rectification of the general injustice perpetrated by the founders of Witherston against the Cherokees who had occupied the land for a thousand years and the specific injustice perpetrated against Patrick Potter. The story is told through narration, dialogue, documents, and articles and letters in OnlineWitherston, the local news source.