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Beneath Still Waters by Cynthia A. Graham
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Beneath Still Waters

by Cynthia A. Graham

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When there’s really bad news in a county, people have different ideas of what should be done. The remains of an infant were discovered by two twelve-year-old boys in a slough in post-WWII Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas. Horrifying! As Hick Blackburn, the local sheriff begins to investigate, he’s told by the coroner, Jake Prescott, that it appeared to be a homicide as opposed to a stillborn infant. All they know for sure about the ID of the infant was that she was a girl. Hick knows he has to investigate but he begins wondering what will be solved by finding the girl … the mother. He’s of the opinion that the baby should be allowed to ‘rest in peace.’ He tells Jake, “…if there is someone out there who didn’t want the child … some woman who was in a bind … what good will come out of locking her up?”

The beginning of this was startling and unsettling. Once you begin reading, there’s little chance of getting anything else done until you flesh it out and find out more. I loved the author’s proficiency with presenting very realistic dialect the characters would have spoken. Even though the novel centers on such injustice, readers feel drawn to the place and time. Having served in WWII, Hick was an interesting but broken character. I felt a connection and sympathy for him even though I disagreed with him. I love mystery and historical fiction and this novel fits the bill on both accounts. Rating: 4.5 out of 5. ( )
  FictionZeal | Mar 10, 2016 |
When the badly decomposed and headless body of a baby is found in the swamp, Sheriff Blackburn is, at first, reluctant to investigate. He suspects the perpetrator was probably a frightened teen and no good will be served by finding them. Since returning from duty in WWII, Hick has been trying to leave his past behind including giving up the woman he loves. And this baby has brought back memories of those days, memories he has been trying very hard to forget.

But it becomes clear that he must find justice for this baby and, as he digs deeper into the crime, he begins to realize that he must confront not only his own past but the secrets lurking just under the surface of this small southern town.

Beneath Still Waters by author Cynthia A Graham is much more than a simple murder mystery. It a beautifully drawn portrait of a post-war southern town as well as the stress returning soldiers experienced as they tried to reintegrate into civilian life after the trauma of combat. The characters are well-drawn and complex and, for the most part, very sympathetic. Graham makes you care about them, to feel you know them or want to and you care about the outcome, not only of the murder but of many of the other people in this small town who have been touched by it if only peripherally. This is a story about secrets and deceits, yes, but also about love and healing and community and it keeps the reader engaged from the first sentence to the last. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Apr 22, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0991305841, Paperback)

The swamps and bayous around Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas have always been dark and mysterious, but on this summer day two boys stumble across the remains of a baby girl, headless and badly decomposed. Hick Blackburn, a reluctant sheriff with a troubled past is called to the scene. With nothing to go on except the baby’s race and sex, the task of discovering who she is and how she died challenges all of Hick’s investigative skills. But Hick faces a deeper challenge. The vision of the infant has left him shattered, a reminder of a war crime he has tried to lock away, a crime that has begun to eat away at the edges of his life, destroying him one relationship at a time.

With the aid of his deputies, Hick will begin to piece together his investigation, an investigation that will lead him to question everything. As he is forced to examine the town he grew up in, he will come to terms with the notion that within each of us lays the propensity for both good and evil. His investigation will turn up lies and ignorance, scandal and deceit, and the lengths a mother will go in order to hide her shame.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:43:52 -0400)

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