Reviewed by Bethany Kelly
Sheriff Hick Blackburn, a World War II veteran, battles demons on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the demons of his past and the things he witnessed during his time in the war aren’t the only demons that he has to battle in Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas. Beneath Still Waters, Cynthia A. Graham’s debut novel, tells the story of a gruesome murder—one that will shake Hick to his core.
When Hick is called to Jenny Slough, he could’ve never imagined the scene that he would see once arriving there: a tiny, decapitated baby found in the slough by two fourteen year old boys. With nothing to go on except that the baby was female and Caucasian, he sets out on the task of discovering the baby’s identity, and the identity of the person, or people, who killed her.
However, solving this crime isn’t his only challenge. Visions of the horrors of war haunt him night and day, destroying his carefully built wall of protection. Will he be able to figure out who cut short the life of an innocent baby? Will he be able to work through his own demons and finally be happy?
I ended up reading this book in one day. I was so enthralled by it that I couldn’t put it down. From the first page, I was wrapped up in the story, and trying to figure out who could do something so horrific. Graham built a world that was easy to get lost in, and conceived characters that were real-to-life. I was emotionally invested in Hick throughout the entire novel, and rooted for him to seek the help that he needed. I was very surprised when the specifics of what happened to the baby were brought to light. I would’ve never guessed how it played out.
I also commend Graham for writing about a character who likely had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is a mental health condition that needs to be brought to light more often, given the number of war veterans (and others who endured a traumatic event) suffering from it. I felt that she did a good job showing just how much the symptoms of this condition can hinder a person’s life and decisions.
I would definitely recommend this book, and look forward to reading Cynthia A. Graham’s next novel.
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Blank Slate Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.