Beneath Still Waters

beneath-still-watersAuthor: Cynthia A. Graham

Publisher: Blank Slate Press

Release Date: March 2015

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A beautiful debut novel that is truly satisfying to the last page!

After returning from his tour of duty during WWII, Hick Blackburn finds himself elected sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas. The first major case he has to tackle is finding out how a newborn baby wound up dead in the swamps.  The scene takes him back to the war and some of the horrible things he saw and had to do himself.  The case is difficult, nothing to go on except the baby’s sex and race, Hick doesn’t know what to do.  His two deputies have more experience and help Hick, together the piece together the clues of who the mother and father of the child are and what could have happened to lead to the baby being murdered and left in the swamps.  Not everything is as it seems and before the case is solved Hick will find himself in the toughest spot he has ever been in.

For a debut novel, this is beautifully written with just the right amount of narrative and dialogue to keep the story flowing quickly and easily. The characters, especially Hick, fit right in and brought a smile to my face on more than one occasion.  This is more than a murder mystery.  Throughout the story we see a great picture of what the south was like after the war and the effect it has on a soldier.  Even though there were so many different characters, there was never a problem distinguishing between who was talking and what was going on.  Hick had a lot going on.  He wasn’t fully capable of handling being sheriff, he knew this, but was doing everything he could to get the job done.  The flashbacks to what happened to him in the war made things that much harder.  On top of everything he was battling his feelings for Maggie, the love he left behind to go to war and now felt too destroyed to be with.  Overall this story was very enjoyable.  I don’t always enjoy stories set in this time of history, but here it flowed so smoothly I didn’t even notice when it was set.  A few of the minor characters really helped carry the story through.  If you just look at this book, it is small and just over 200 pages, you wouldn’t think it could be fully developed in that amount of text, but it really was.  It was just the right length to get the story cross without all the filler that so many try to use.  Usually language bothers me, (in this case several uses of GD), but here it fit with the characters, time and what really might be said.