Friday, June 29, 2018

Still Water

Still Water by Amy Stuart
Simon & Schuster: 5/8/18
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781476790459

Still Water by Amy Stuart is a recommended psychological thriller that continues the story found in her first book, Still Mine (2016).

Clare O’Dey is helping PI Malcolm Boon track down missing women. (There is a backstory from the first novel that is mostly explained, or at least enough to follow this second novel.) She travels to the town of High River to discover the truth behind the disappearance of  Sally Proulx and her young son from the home of Helen Haines, a used-to-be secret refuge for abused women to hide. Now that Sally is missing, assumed to have jumped into the river, the police are there combing the area and the secret is out.

Clare shows up claiming to be an old friend of Sally's and begins to look into the investigation and disappearance. But Clare is highly suspicious of police detective Colin Rourke, who seems oddly obsessed with focusing on her personally. To complicate matters further, all the people Clare is running into at High River have secrets of their own and seem to be disconnected and hiding something.

There are some great qualities to the novel. Stuart captures the natural setting and the tense atmosphere quite well. The novel is well paced and will keep you reading. However, I think this second novel in the series might be better appreciated by those who enjoyed the first novel.

Clare is not particularly a likeable character, which means you may be struggling to like/trust her, especially because her relationship with Malcolm is weird and feels weird and weird is not always a good trait in your main protagonist. I really had a hard time believing that she would be a great choice to go undercover to find women who are trying to hide from exes. Perhaps the first book in the series would change my perception of her, but this second novel and the explanations it contains are all I have to go on. And her cover story to explain why she was there - laughable and wouldn't be believed for a second under the circumstances in the novel.

I can set aside misgivings if a plot is strong and compelling. Still Water starts out strong and Stuart had my attention (and a higher rating for the beginning). The writing is technically good, but, alas, the plot went downhill after the strong start and some eye-rolling began to happen as the novel progressed. Some of the things Clare said and did seemed peculiar or just plain wrong under the circumstances (which points back to questioning why she would be a good choice to do what she is doing). Rather than exciting unexpected twists, there were odd disclosures and new little developments that actually took away from the main narrative. 3 stars for the strong beginning and the potential

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster

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