Aurion du Preez

Under the Southern Cross: (Softcover: $25: ISBN: 978-1-68114-493-1; Hardcover: $40: ISBN: 978-1-68114-494-8; EBook: $2.99: ISBN: 978-1-68114-495-5; Amazon Soft Cover: ISBN 979-8-595602-00-6; Kindle eBook: ASIN: B08T822LZN; Fiction—Religious; Edited by: Jennifer Banash (Kevin Anderson & Associates), Gay Ingram, and Jacqueline Oshiro; Release: July 1, 2019; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): Set in South Africa during the decline of Apartheid, a story about the disparity of religious idealism and human frailty. Ben Greene is a young American schoolteacher who is sent by his church to assess the mental and physical state of John Rice, an aging missionary who has gone missing in Botswana. The search leads into a war zone in Angola where Ben is caught in a fire-fight and a child dies in his arms. Then, he discovers Rice’s body among a group of murdered missionaries. Left on foot, Ben and his African interpreter Tembu are forced to find their way to safety through the treacherous Okavango swamp.

Ben returns to South Africa physically and emotionally scarred, but determined to compensate for Rice’s loss and to assuage the pain of his own guilt. He and his young wife Marilyn settle in Cape Town, immersing themselves in a burgeoning ministry led by a flamboyant evangelist named Alexander Van Hemel. Unaware of his sinister agenda, the couple find themselves entangled in a dark web from which escape is costly and painful.

“Aurion du Preez’s novel Under the Southern Cross is an unflinching stare into mission, congregation and school ministries, set in South Africa in the waning days of apartheid. Parts of it read like the plot of a fast paced adventure movie. Parts explore the challenges of working as a diverse ministry team on daily routines. Parts are a compelling love story, complete with serious threats to the relationship the reader is cheering for. Parts are profound examinations of theological and ethical debates. All of this follows Ben Greene on his journey from idealism to betrayal and disillusionment. He wrestles with stress that compromises and threatens to destroy his ministry and marriage, integrity and sanity… A few times I put it down, not feeling up to its intensity, only to be compelled to resume reading so I would not be left hanging on impending disaster. Ben’s path took some turns I would not have expected, toward a worthy but painfully won climax. Not all ministry messiness is as intense as portrayed in Under the Southern Cross, but the themes—both dangers and recoveries—are common, even typical, of every ministry that engages people at their points of pain… As I read I cringed and cried, cajoled and cheered.” —Norm Stolpe

“While reading Under the Southern Cross, I never knew exactly where the narrative was going to take me. I enjoy that in a novel. The characters are refreshingly real in that they are all flawed in some way, especially appealing since many of the personalities are Christian ministers. The story takes the reader through South Africa and surrounding countries during a time when apartheid was beginning to fall apart at its seams.  It’s an eye-opening glimpse into a place and time during which politics, rigid racial segregation and Christian fundamentalism are all straining for legitimacy. Having said that, the novel is mainly the personal journey of a young pastor named Ben who signed on for a simple fact-finding trip but instead encountered some of the most harrowing circumstances one could imagine. The story line includes intrigue, mystery, combat, celebration and angst. It is an excellent read indeed.” —Rev. Dr. Mark W. Irons

Bayou Caddy: A Novel: (Softcover: $25, 436pp, 6X9”: ISBN: 978-1-68114-550-1; Hardcover: $40: ISBN: 978-1-68114-551-8; EBook: $2.99: ISBN: 978-1-68114-552-5; Amazon Soft Cover: ISBN: 979-8-596403-37-4; LCCN: 2020918952; Fiction—Thrillers—Supernatural; Release: January 15, 2021; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): Ronny Pham is the youngest of four children in a Vietnamese immigrant family in southern Mississippi, working as shrimpers out of a small port at Bayou Caddy. Amidst long standing racial hatred and violence, they are subject to taunting and intimidation, living in constant fear of burning crosses and lynching. Not only is Ronny bullied at school, but he and his white girlfriend Paige McArthur become targets of extreme violence. Ronny is murdered and Paige, who survives a vicious attack, is left in a catatonic state and confined to a nursing home. Fifteen years later, most of the community has forgotten them both. But when Paige comes home, still disabled, from Ronny’s grave arises an ancient legendary force of vengeance and justice that no one will ever forget. The new Sheriff, Warren Boudin, is faced with unraveling a mystery and solving an impossible crime.

Bayou Caddy‘s crime thriller holds an unusual dual attraction in its coverage of racism, immigrant issues, and struggles in southern Mississippi, in the small port town of Bayou Caddy. Vietnamese boy Ronny Pham and his white girlfriend Paige McArthur are the targets of an attack that kills him and leaves her in a nursing home… Readers won’t expect some of the supernatural threads that emerge to test the boundaries of thriller and fantasy in Bayou Caddy—but these are part of its allure. The surprise elements deeply embedded in the town’s struggles and in individual lives and choices that have long departed from normal routes of logic and justice give rise to many thought-provoking moments as the tale unfolds. Indeed, Aurion du Preez crafts a story of social inspection, psychological revelation, paranormal experience, and small-town prejudice and secrets that creates its own unique blend of action and insight. What is the point of revenge and action? Seemingly, it’s ‘to defend the helpless, avenge the wronged. Those are just empty words. No one feels vindicated and the pain never goes away.‘ What is worth the effort of redemption and what is not, if ‘It’s not about making everything right. That’s just not possible in this world.‘ As characters and readers consider issues of the greater good, retaliation, and a mysterious force that emerges from the marriage between swamp environment and human desires, the mystery and truths that unfold prove riveting and hard to predict. Du Preez brings to life this Mississippi milieu, embedding it with cultural and social revelations that lead readers to confront the darkness that lives in their own presumptions and actions. Libraries and readers seeking thrillers firmly embedded in Southern culture and legacies of prejudice and love will find Bayou Caddy a rich, evocative read worthy of book club discussion and individual contemplation alike.” –Midwest Book Review, Diane Donovan, May 2023

Aurion du Preez lives with his wife and two dogs in a small community in North Texas. He is retired from a blended career in ministry, missions, and education. He loves family, travel, gardening, music, and photography, but he devotes most of his energy to writing. He keeps in close contact with friends and family, and he actively supports humanitarian interests locally and abroad. He has published a number of academic books and essays. Bayou Caddy is his second novel. Under the Southern Cross was published in July 2019.


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