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Below the Surface - Coming March 10, 2020


Hick Blackburn is falling apart. Last year, the world had been full of hope and promise. After solving a murder and corruption case in nearby Broken Creek, attorney Carol Quinn's uncle, the head of the Civil Rights Section of the Justice Department, had offered both Hick and Carol jobs in DC. Hick had a wife, two boys, and a baby on the way. Now, everything is different. It's as if hope and promise no longer exist. And then Quinn shows up again. This time it's with a new case to solve and when Hick finds out his friend Father Grant is in the hospital and his church has been torched, he can't say no. But this time, corruption is the least of his problems. With a sociopath on the loose, everything is on the line.

"Hick’s fourth case posits an all-too-believable scenario and nuanced, relatable characters."  - Kirkus Reviews

"With Below the Surface, Graham delivers on all three of the things that every reader desires in a good murder mystery. First, you need to be sucked into the story to the point where you feel like you’re right alongside Sheriff Hick Blackburn and U.S. Attorney Carol Quinn as they investigate the crime. Second, you want to be transported into a new and unexplored universe, a place and time far apart from your own — in this case the Ozarks of northern Arkansas in the 1950s. And third, you hope it’s more than just a straight forward detective story. That last point is where Graham really delivers the goods. Because in addition to solving the killing that backbones the plot, Below the Surface also examines the hatred, prejudice, misogyny and xenophobia that was prevalent at that time — and that continue to plague America more than half a century later. To paraphrase Sheriff Hick Blackburn, there’s an odd stirring in your heart and your imagination’s caught from the first few pages of Graham’s mightily compelling mystery." —Joe Yogerst, author of Nemesis: A Novel of Old California


“Set against the violent backdrop of desegregation during the mid-fifties, Graham’s Hick Blackburn is looking worse for wear but reads better than ever before. He’s got nothing to lose and more human than ever in this tightly written, fast-moving fourth installment. Graham’s uncanny ability of making her down-to-earth hero rise to the occasion yet again sucked me in immediately. It’s the best yet in the brilliant series.” —Jon James Miller, author of Looking for Garbo


“Graham transports you into a world of poverty, powerlessness and religious conflict in a small rural town in Arkansas. Lots of plot twists and interesting characters with an ending that is both satisfying and poignant. A moving story and a good mystery.” —Charlotte Stuart, author of Survival Can Be Deadly

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Between the Lies


When the corrupt sheriff of Broken Creek, Arkansas detains a young black boy on charges of accidental homicide, his sister asks Hick Blackburn, Sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, to investigate. Hick is reluctant. Not only is Broken Creek out of his jurisdiction, but Hick and Sheriff Brewster have a history, and Hick knows Brewster won't look kindly on interference. But Hick quickly realizes the boy couldn't have committed the crime. With the aid of a New York attorney trying to make a name for herself and a shy new deputy who knows the boy's family, Hick uncovers a conspiracy that goes to the heart of local curruption, nepotism, and racism. But while Hick is working to free an innocent child in Broken Creek, his beloved Maggie, pregnant with their third child, faces challenges of her own back home. This time, will Hick's dedication to justice extract too high a price?

"Graham does not disappoint. As always the mystery itself is captivating and unpredictable, but the heart of Graham's book is in the relationships and characterizations ... an intricate tale that effortlessly twists and turns." -- Kate Kort, author of Glass

"Heartfelt and poignant, Cynthia A. Graham handles the complexities of Southern culture and the depths of its racial past with grace and finesse. The character development and plot are deep and complex. This is a novel full of heartbreak, but a story of hope is at its true heart." -- Hunter S. Jones, author of Red Stiletto Strategy

Beulah's House of Prayer


In 1934 the tiny town of Barmy, Oklahoma, is in desperate need of a miracle. The cows are hungry, the rain won't fall, most of Main Street is boarded up. Young aspiring trapeze artist Sugar Watson is dumped unceremoniously into this bleak setting with little money and only one thing on her mind -- escape. Beulah Clinton, a Holy Ghost preacher, has dedicated herself to helping the distressed in this ragged little wasteland, and Sugar soon finds herself thrown in with Marigold Lawford, the simple-minded widow of the richest man in town, and Homer Guppy, a boy trouble follows like dust after a wind.

Despite Sugar's immediate distaste of Barmy, Beulah's patience, Marigold's kindness, and Homer's unconditional love make her reconsider the meaning of home.

On Black Sunday, the worst dust storm in history brings with it a choice: Sugar must decide whether or not to return home, leaving the hospitality and love of Barmy's inhabitants. A stunning Depression-era literary novel with a touch of magical realism, Beulah's House of Prayer captivates until the very end.

"Cynthia A. Graham's novel, Beulah's House of Prayer, is chock-full of what Flannery O'Connor called 'large and startling figures.' But these are not caricatures; they are people with whom you will fall in love and think you know in real life. You will care about their travails and want to turn to that last page to see what becomes of them but with Dust Bowl descriptions reminiscent of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, a break-neck speed conclusion, and a fascinating love story in the mix, you'll be conflicted about how fast you want to get there." --David Armand, author, The Gorge, Harlow, and The Pugilist s Wife

"Beulah's House of Prayer blends the stark reality of Steinbeck and the grace and imagery of Willa Cather into a beautifully-rendered story of struggle and faith in Depression and Dust Bowl era Oklahoma a place where 'communion is the wheat I grow and the blood I sweat.' Cynthia Graham's moving story coalesces around Beulah, a self-appointed savior of lost souls and downtrodden characters in her orbit, a woman who believes in snake handling and a one-dimensional interpretation of the Bible. She provides a sanctuary for them to work through their personal trials and troubles. Hope is the bright thread that runs the narrative length, heightening both anticipation and despair. Steeped in metaphor, this moving novel is at once compelling and poetic. It is the kind of story that often finds its way onto the big screen. One heck of a good read!" --Dixon Hearne, author, From Tickfaw to Shongaloo and Delta Flats: Stories in the Key of Blues and Hope











Behind Every Door

When a school secretary is found murdered alongside a ditch outside of Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas, none of the usual scenarios seem to fit. Hick Blackburn, a sheriff more interested in finding justice than keeping peace, is compelled to construct the last months of her life to unearth what may have led to her death.  With the citizens of Cherokee Crossing increasingly suspicious of the boys who found her body, Hick must battle the town's narrow-mindedness and quickly find those responsible.

As the investigation unfolds, it is clear that everyone has something to hide, including Hick's own family and friends. As age-old lies come to light, Hick must face the truth that people aren't always what they seem. And to find  thekiller, he will learn that having secrets isn't a crime. But that some secrets can lead to murder.

Winner of the 2016 Midwest Book Award for Mystery.



“From the opening scene, Graham gives readers both a page turner and true-to-the-time characters we care about. ”                                                             ~ Historical Novel Society


“Lazy cotton fields and drainage ditches belie the secrets behind every door; misplaced vengeance, mistaken culprits, and murderous cover-ups.”

                        ~ John Joseph Ryan, author of A Bullet Apiece

Beneath Still Waters


When two boys stumble across the remains of a baby girl, headless and badly decomposed, in a swamp in Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas, 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.


Set in the wake of World War II, Beneath Still Waters is a lyrical and haunting tale about the loss of innocence, the resilience of love, and the lengths to which people will go to survive. It will appeal to readers who love Southern fiction, myteries, and crime novels, and stories about good people coming to terms with the fact that they are capable of doing terrible things. 


Winner of the 2016 Independent Publisher's Association Gold

Medal for Mystery/Cozy/Noir


Winner of the 2015 Midwest Book Award for Mystery

"Beneath Still Waters is Southern lit at its finest and most poignant."

                                 ~ Historical Novel Society


"...the arrest scene was Faulknerian."

                                 ~ The Deadly Duo, Judge Bill Hopkinsand Sharon Hopkins


"From the moment you step into Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas, you will find it unforgettable."

                                  ~ Claire Applewhite, author of the 'Nam Noir Series                          







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