Originally published in The Historical Novels Review
When the headless body of a baby girl is found in the swamp near Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas it is up to Hick Blackburn, the town’s reluctant sheriff, to uncover the truth about the young infant’s death. But the body isn’t the only thing that the still, murky waters of the Arkansas slough dredge up. The body stirs up powerful emotions in Hick—from the horror he faced and committed during WWII to his tenuous relationship with his former fiancé—and in the town itself making everyone reassess the place they call home and the balance between good and evil inside everyone.
Beneath Still Waters is southern lit at its finest and most poignant. On the one hand we have Hick Blackburn’s struggle with his role in his family—his broken off marriage with Maggie and his relationship with his sister and brother-in-law (also his deputy)—and on the other hand Hick’s doubts about his place in the community—he didn’t want to be sheriff and now he isn’t sure he wants to chase down the killer of the baby as it might just be a young girl in town and he want to avoid scandal. Cynthia Graham’s writing is crisp and to the heart. Her characters are true, honest, and quickly become a part of you. This book is a page-turner that will keep you guessing about the identity of the killer until the very end. And, yes, there is a mule within the pages of the story, but it isn’t dead. Highly recommended.