Read Beneath Still Waters by Cynthia A. Graham Online


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 andThe 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....

Title : Beneath Still Waters
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780991305841
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Beneath Still Waters Reviews

  • Richard
    2019-04-25 04:43

    I really enjoyed this book which I may have missed but for net galley promotion and a chance to read and review. Few books fully capture the essence of a place , it's sounds and smells as well as Cynthia Graham's debut novel.I loved the location and period of this book, and the writing style of this author who takes a simple tale; spins it into a compelling and tense story full of passion and a lurking threat. Set in the American South around its swamps and bayous in a small town in Arkansas. When the body of a new born baby is found by kids playing, a small, close-knit community is thrown into turmoil. How could one of their own commit such an act? When it looks like murder rather than accidental death the folks wish it could be blamed on an outsider.For the local sheriff Hick Blackburn he is on a hiding to nothing. Not universally liked he questions the sense digging into a tragic event where no good can result. He has more life experience having been in the Army during World War II but also scarred by his military career. But does his reluctance to investigate have a deeper meaning in terms of the crime and his own psyche. As the story unfolds he seems to unravel with combat stress seeping in to undermine his work and relationships.Lovingly told packed with genuine characters the story beautifully evokes the small town mentality, church going, family ties and old fashioned values.Life is not turning out to be as simple as he hoped after the war; law enforcement is more complicated, people not always what they seem and he is unable to adjust to be the person he was or people expect him to be.This is the joy of this story how events can be life-changing but not always within our control. How one adjusts to these incidents can be the difference between life and death but just how far would one go for your loved ones.Can Hick solve the crime without losing everything he once held so dear?

  • Heather
    2019-05-16 09:59

    Beneath Still Waters was a book where I felt immediately right at home–with the ease of the simpler times of small town life in the mid-twentieth century, with the sights and sounds of a suffocatingly hot summer. I went into this book expecting a historical novel steeped in mystery, and I definitely got that…but I loved that it didn’t feel overly out of time. The slower pace of that by-gone era wasn’t jarring, and it gelled well with the contemplative yet very active characters.When the headless body of newborn baby is discovered in the swamp at a popular fishing spot by two young boys, Sheriff Hick Blackburn is tasked with investigating how the baby wound up in the water–but only after prodding from the local doctor and an inquest. Once it’s clear that the baby was murdered, he must begin the difficult task of finding the mother, and then the father, and finally who ultimately killed the poor, helpless baby.The investigation is far from smooth, and things are complicated by Hick’s past trauma as a soldier in World War II still haunting him. Ever since he returned from his tour of duty in Europe, he’s been a shell of his former self, and as the sheriff, some of the locals–especially the newspaper reporter across the street–seem to have no confidence in his police skills. He even broke things off with his fiancee, and even though he sees her daily at the diner and pines for her from afar, Hick won’t rekindle things with her even though it’s clear that she’s waited for him. Seeing the murdered baby reminds him of a traumatic event that happened in the war, and he’ll finally have to face that event head on if he wants to solve the mystery of who the baby belonged to and who killed her.I give Beneath Still Waters a five out of five. The characters are well drawn and likable, and the atmosphere of the mid-twentieth century south was palpable. The prose flowed so nicely that it read so smoothly–it didn’t feel historical to me. I was very immersed in the story from the start, and I grew to care about the characters–even the minor ones–quite quickly. Not only does Beneath Still Waters focus on the mystery of a murdered baby and who her parents were, but it also looks at the stresses and struggles that veterans go through post-war when they return home. Secrets, lies, and deception abound in this book, but desperation truly can make people do unspeakable things, and this slice of Americana is depicted quite realistically. I thoroughly enjoyed Hick’s story, and I will definitely be checking out the next story featuring Hick as well that is available in March 2016.(Also on Bewitched Bookworms, book received for free in exchange for honest review for TLC Book Tour)

  • K.D. Kort
    2019-05-24 03:54

    Beneath Still Waters is a novel that immediately gripped me. I started it one night intending to read just a few pages before bed and ended up reading over a hundred. Woven into the prose is a strong sense of place, and this murky Arkansas slough becomes a mysterious and sinister character itself. I also appreciate that Graham employs unique, consistent voices for each character, which makes it easy on the reader as several characters are introduced in a short time. In the mystery genre there needs to be a large group of people from which to guess the culprit, and that can be overwhelming, but it feels easy and natural in this novel. The writing itself is beautiful and appears effortless. It feels like the authentic post-war South in every way. Lines like, “Now, Tobe kept company with ghosts and entertained them with whiskey” felt genuine and poignant. Graham’s descriptions are vivid and poetic, and there’s a nice balance of exposition and dialogue. More specifically, I most enjoyed the relationships between the characters. Hick really is a protagonist to root for, and while he feels the shameful acts from his past will ostracize him, his desire to recover and atone makes him a strongly sympathetic character. Hick’s relationship with his sister I found interesting, especially seeing how certain events (their brother’s death, the influence of their father, Hick’s experience in the war) affect them in different ways. Hick’s father, who never appears in the book, is characterized so well I feel like he was an active participant in this narrative. He affects Hick often in everyday life—we see he is a great source of pride for Hick as well as shame for not believing he lived up to the example his father set. The magical “medicine man” quality was a great addition to his character, especially as we see it mirrored in Hick toward the end of the novel. I strongly recommend this book to lovers of mystery, historical fiction, or any great, character-driven fiction. Cynthia A. Graham has certainly proven herself with this debut novel.

  • Sharon
    2019-05-06 01:35

    Where's my review gone ?????Ok here it is again ... Actual rating 3.5Graham has written an engrossing and deeply thought provoking southern gothic tale about the good and bad in human nature and of the demons which haunt and torment the particular characters in her novel, and of how they cope (or not) and justify their, at times misguided, actions.Beneath Still Waters is a murder investigative tale with a troubled love story running parallel and historically through it. Although not as dark or violent as some crime novels I've read it does have disturbing themes such as infanticide and its relative autopsy details which in my view was done sympathetically and very realistically without being too gross or in anyway excessive. However, because some readers may find such issues disturbing, I wouldn't recommend it to those sensitive to such topics.One quibble I did have was that the last 10% or so was used to tie-up, 'all of', the loose ends, including ribbons and bows. This resulted in the previous easy pacing becoming rushed, and for me had a 'Miss Marple' convenient ending. Some of the less fleshed out characters from this point onwards became fuller bodied and it is with respect to these characters that I think it would have been best left for the follow-up book.Even with my one 'teeny tiny' quibble, I enjoyed Beneath Still Waters very much and am looking forward to reading Graham's follow-up novel, Behind Every Door, which takes place a few years later, (publish date, 22 March 2016).Disclaimer: A complimentary digital copy of Beneath Still Waters was provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

  • Maxine
    2019-05-04 04:51

    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.

  • Diane Coto
    2019-05-01 08:30

    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.

  • Laura
    2019-05-06 09:38

    Discovered this author's books at the Midwest Book Awards Gala. Once I started Beneath Still Waters I read as close to straight through as my schedule allowed. I was very engaged with the character of Sheriff Hick - a troubled World War II vet and young for the job - and the setting of the book. It is refreshing at times to read something from a time before solutions came from computer searches and rescue by cell phone was not an option. I am going to start reading the follow-up, Behind Every Door, today.

  • Suzanne Hall
    2019-05-02 06:59

    Cynthia Graham offers a literary mystery with a WWI vet as protagonist. Though damaged by war, Hick searches for the good, both in his community and in himself. The story is set in a richly developed, believable small-town Arkansas. Graham's gift of creating a sense of place shines. Looking forward to the book's sequel: Behind Every Door.

  • Cort
    2019-05-06 07:44

    A quick read with a well conceived plot and depth of thought.

  • Deb
    2019-04-28 07:49

    I had my doubts about just how much I would get into this story and characters and how just much story would actually get told based on the short length, but Beneath Still Waters pulled me right into the mystery and the characters. Our lead is Andrew (Hickory or Hick) Blackburn, recently returned WWII soldier and recently appointed sheriff of his community. Hick is young, deeply troubled by his wartime experience in Belgium, and facing criticism--particularly from the town newspaperman about his capabilities. He's also still pining away for diner waitress Maggie, even though he was the one to break their engagement after his return from overseas. I quickly grew attached to Hick and wanted to follow him around--feeding and hydrating him, making him cut down on the caffeine, and slapping the countless cigarettes out of his hand. His issues and his focus on the crime, along with the obvious PSTD, made him seem constantly on the edge. Hick's relationship with his family--mother, sister Pam, and brother-in-law and deputy Adam are strong. I particularly liked Adam who at close to three decades older than Hick, operates as an older brother as well as his right hand man--and manages to do both well. Adam and Dr. Jake Prescott, the town physician and coroner, along with another deputy, Wash, are Hick's crime solving team. Beneath Still Waters has a pretty horrific crime attached to it--the finding of the body of an infant girl, badly decomposed and headless. It's no wonder that it has Hick and the town reeling as they try to figure out who in the small Southern community of Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas delivered her and then who murdered her and why. Although the WWII era setting is well done and feels authentic, it doesn't overwhelm the story and I felt as if it could be set in any time period. Author Graham paints a vivid portrayal of this tiny poverty-stricken town and its citizens, which made me guess and constantly second guess who the guilty were. The answers and the twists getting there were absorbing and I sped through this book. Luckily, I was able to download an ARC of the sequel, Behind Every Door on NetGalley, and have made a trip back to Cherokee Crossing. So far, it's as good as the first and makes me hope there are more Hick Blackburn books in the future. Mystery, crime, and police procedural fans should like this one, as well as those who like historical fiction and mystery. You can see my full review and a recipe inspired by the book on my Kahakai Kitchen blog post here: A review copy of "Beneath Still Waters" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Sara Strand
    2019-05-24 07:38

    It only has 215 pages but inside those few pages is one of the best stories I have ever read. Right away on page one we meet town sheriff, Hick Blackburn, on the scene of a crime that just doesn't happen in Cherokee Crossing. Two boys fishing stumble across (literally) the body of a headless infant. Nobody knows who she belongs to or how she got there, but this crime has catapulted Hick back into memories of his time in Belgium fighting in the war. While it doesn't shift perspective (just a couple of times, but not every other chapter like most books do), it really feels like two different stories happening at once. We have current Hick trying to solve the murder of this innocent baby with almost no clues at all except for a genetic anomaly in the babies hands. He needs to find the mother of the baby, possibly the father, but ultimately the murderer. The baby was alive when it went into the swamp because it had sand and water in it's lungs so right away, any mother is horrified and you're hooked- who could or would do this to a newborn baby? Then we have war time Hick who too young to understand the long term ramifications of war, finds himself in the middle of a horrific battle with no experience and he makes a mistake out of fear rather than logic. It haunts him to this day and the murder of this baby brings it all rushing back. And then... we have a love story. Because before Hick went to war, he was engaged to his life long love, Maggie. When he came back, obviously suffering from the mental anguish war gives a young man, he breaks it off with Maggie, leaving her heartbroken. She doesn't give up hope and she keeps trying to break through what is eating at Hick, sure that if she could, she'd have her old love back where he belongs. This book hooked me immediately when I started and I absolutely could not put it down. It captures everything right about the south, it gets you in the head of a war returned soldier, and you ache for this baby. Once all of the puzzle pieces come together the story becomes even more tragic and you find yourself, like Hick, at odds of what is right in the law and what someone believes in their heart to be the best decision. I cannot praise this book enough- it's such a fast read and I know you'll absolutely love it. It really reminds me of a Christina Baker Kline novel, actually. Just a masterfully done weaving of the story lines so you never feel lost or like you're having to keep too much straight in your head for it to make sense. Absolutely one of my top ten books of 2016 so far. Easily.

  • Michael Comoroto
    2019-05-16 09:40

    Very few authors have captured a setting—the sights, the smells, the sounds—the way Cynthia A. Graham has in her debut novel, Beneath Still Waters. Like a hummingbird to nectar, Graham hones in on sensory details: she doesn’t just show her readers the swamps and bayous around Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas, but rather, she lets them hear the crickets chirp and feel the humidity. A captivating portrait of a post-war southern town, a love story, and a gallery of fascinating characters are all woven into the fabric of this haunting tale. After the headless corpse of a baby girl is discovered in the slough, a small, close-knit community in Arkansas is thrown into turmoil. With little evidence to go on, Sheriff Hick Blackburn, a twenty-two-year-old World War II veteran, is tasked with bringing the baby’s killer to justice. Hick, however, faces an even more problematic task, as the babies death serves as a constant reminder of a war crime he had tried to put behind him, and thus steers him into a head-on collision with his past. Both Amazon and Blank Slate Press have labeled Beneath Still Waters a murder-mystery. But this isn’t the typical fast-paced, murder-mystery novel that you might pick up at an airport bookshop before a cross-country flight. No, it’s much more than that. In terms of symbolism, theme, and lyricism Beneath Still Waters transcends the boundaries of its genre. This novel brings to light the stress that soldiers experience as they attempt to reintegrate into civilian life after combat as well as the extreme lengths to which people will go in order to survive.

  • Kari
    2019-05-20 06:32

    Beneath Still Waters is one of those debut novels that kind of sneaks up on you and ends up sticking with you long after you have finished the book. I thought this book was beautifully written and ended up really liking it. The story begins with a horrendous find, someone has killed a baby and left it in the swamp. Its's up to Hick, the youngest sherrif in the history of the town to find out what happened and find justice for baby Doe. What I liked about the book was how the raw emotion of the situation came across to me, the reader. The entire situation was so heartbreaking, yet I couldn't stop reading through to the resolution. Hick was a great character. He is so broken, yet determined to do his job. Taking place in the aftermath of World War II, Hick and his deputies must rely on themselves to solve the mystery. It was refreshing to read a mystery with out all of the CSI advancements that we have now. What loved even more about this book is the way the author handled to reality of PTSD among the WWII soldiers who came back from the war. I realized after reading this that I haven't really thought about what those soldiers went through and what they had to deal with when they came back. It was just as bad as what our soldiers come back with today. I highly recommend this book. I know it is one that will stick with me for a long time. I would love to read more about these characters in this small town in the future. Bravo for a great debut!

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    2019-05-06 08:55

    When an infant's headless remains are discovered in the water by young local boys, Hick Blackburn struggles with the daunting task of finding the child's killer. From the start Hick doesn't see the good in uncovering the truth, because surely the person isn't a threat just someone who made terrible choice, possibly even out of desperation or ignorance. The killer must have been desperate, maybe even a high school girl, better to let sleeping dogs lie...He is convinced otherwise by the the doctor, because a life is a life and soon the reader investigates the locals in this southern novel. The crime ignites memories of a war crime that Hick would rather keep buried, but nothing ever stays hidden forever.Sometimes it's the sleepy idyllic hometown's of our childhood that harbors evil. Darkness often appears in the guise of 'good intentions.' But does mother always know best? A quick but engaging read and I don't think I will look at turtles the same again.

  • Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
    2019-05-04 07:43

    Check out the full review at Kritters RamblingsWhen I received the pitch for this book, I sat on the fence and thought I would take a shot on it and I am glad I did! Out of my wheelhouse, but a good break from my usual reads. First, it is a male narrator who has returned from war and is trying to get back into things in his small town that he came from. He has become a sheriff and through a case in the small town where a baby girl has been found he must confront memories from war and make decisions to move his life forward.First, although this is historical fiction, this veteran could have come home from Iraq, the story is almost timeless. I don't read a lot of books with solely male characters narrating and I enjoyed hearing his story and feelings from his point of view. I also loved the content in his story, there was war, friendship, love and just the yearn for something more.

  • Karen
    2019-04-26 02:41

    I felt the heat and humidity. Ms. Graham has a beautiful way with language. And yet there aren't easy answers in this mystery which is really more about love, grief, and hope than murder. I'm looking forward to her next book. Her challenge will be keeping her characters' vulnerability and having them grow.

  • Dawn Naughton
    2019-05-20 01:54

    Great story. Love historical fiction, especially WWII era. Can't wait to start the next book in the series.

  • Tracy
    2019-05-01 03:56

    A good and easy read!Interesting the way people justify their actions and how the truth comes out in the end. Sad that there is such hidden evil even in small town America.

  • Cynthia Graham
    2019-05-09 01:47