Epeolatry Book Review: Still Waters by Matt Goldman

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Title: Still Waters
Author: Matt Goldman
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: 1st May, 2024

Synopsis: If you’re reading this email, I am dead. I know this will sound strange, but someone has been trying to kill me.

 

Liv and Gabe Ahlstrom are estranged siblings who haven’t seen each other in years, but that’s about to change when they receive a rare call from their older brother’s wife. “Mack is dead,” she says. “He died of a seizure.” Five minutes after they hang up, Liv and Gabe each receive a scheduled email from their dead brother, claiming that he was murdered.

 

The siblings return to their family-run resort in the Northwoods of Minnesota to investigate Mack’s claims, but Leech Lake has more in store for them than either could imagine. Drawn into a tangled web of lies and betrayal that spans decades, they put their lives on the line to unravel the truth about their brother, their parents, themselves, and the small town in which they grew up. After all, no one can keep a secret in a small town, but someone in Leech Lake is willing to kill for the truth to stay buried.

 

New York Times bestselling and Emmy award-winning author Matt Goldman returns with a gripping, emotional thrill ride in this compelling story on grief and uncovering the past before it’s too late.

I was drawn to this book by the promise of a small-town mystery and fraught sibling reunion, and it delivered on both fronts. A quick and engaging read, I consumed the book over the course of one afternoon. The mystery was well laid out and while I did guess the overall outcome, there were plenty of details.

 

Liv and Gabe are a pair of “Irish twins” who have not spoken to each other in over a year. No one is a bad guy. There was no huge falling out; they simply are not a part of each other’s lives. At least until their older brother, Mack, dies, and they each receive a posthumous email from Mack warning them his death was no accident. It was murder. Together, Liv and Gabe return to their childhood home to save their family resort and discover the truth about what happened to their older brother.

 

What I enjoyed most beyond the mystery were the family dynamics. As mentioned, neither Liv nor Gabe are the bad guy in the falling out. They were close when they were young, and their main difference is their personalities. Liv is a controlling go-getter, and Gabe is more laidback and appears irresponsible. Their clashes are realistic and they truly felt like a brother-sister pair. Goldman also gives each of them parallel romantic subplots that contrast well and connect to the main mystery in surprising ways.

 

Nestled in the woods and surrounded by the townsfolk of Birchwood, the resort—Ahlstrom’s, is an excellent location for a mystery to unfold. Goldman weaves in a number of red herrings in both character and motive. Birchwood feels like a full, complete town, even if some of the individual characters could do with a bit more development.

The tone of Still Waters is light, and the mystery is more in the cozy realm without all the quirkiness that sometimes bogs down those mysteries. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, afternoon mystery.

/5

Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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