Beneath Still Waters – Cynthia A. Graham

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 terrible things he experienced in the war.  With no clues to speak of, Hick doesn’t know what to do.  His two, more experienced deputies commit to help Hick. Together, they 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, were written beautifully 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.

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. There was some potentially offensive language, but it felt fitting for the time period and the characters. From the outside, the book looks like it may be too short to be a truly developed story, but it will pull you in quickly and carry you through to the last page.

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Author: Josh Olds

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