Still Water

Still Water

by Amy Stuart


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476790459
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 248,993
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Amy Stuart’s debut novel Still Mine was an instant national bestseller. Nominated for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel award, and winner of the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition, Amy’s writing has previously appeared in newspapers and magazines across Canada. Amy lives in Toronto with her husband and her three sons. Still Water is her second novel. Visit her at or @AmyFStuart.

Read an Excerpt

Still Water

  • Clare jolts upright, her hand at her mouth to stifle a scream.

    This room is blue with moonlight. Clare is on a single bed, its rusted joints creaking beneath her as she adjusts to sitting. She blinks. Bare walls, high ceiling, cobwebs wound tight in the corners. There is an open window, a hot wind lifting the corner of her bedsheet. The door is closed. Another single bed is pressed to the far wall, a woman lying facedown, asleep, as still as a corpse.

    A voice in Clare’s head. Do you know about this place?

    The woman in the bed lets out a long whine. Clare studies her in the low light. She looks to be in her midthirties, her face gently lined but tense even in sleep. She rolls onto her back, one arm flapped over the side of the bed. There is a zigzag of scars on her forearm and palm. Defensive scars, Clare knows. The kind that come from fending someone off. They spoke only briefly after Clare arrived last night, shook hands, maneuvered around each other in the small space. Raylene, she’d said. Her name is Raylene.

    The painted hardwood floor is warm under Clare’s feet. She stands and tiptoes to the window. This room is on the second story, a porch roof extending below her. Two hundred feet ahead, a river churns. A willow tree is perched so close to the water that its thick roots curl over the edge of the bank. A wooden cross has been nailed askew to its trunk. Clare twists her hair into a bun, then crouches to catch the breeze on her neck.

    Do you know about this place?

    Yes, Clare thinks, eyes on the wooden cross. I know about this place.

    This morning, there was the ocean. Two days ago, Malcolm Boon in the doorway of Clare’s room, a folder in hand.

    I have a new case, he’d said. A woman and her child have disappeared.

    How many days since she and Malcolm absconded from the hospital in Blackmore before the police could question them? How many days and nights did Clare spend in that motel room, drifting in and out of fitful sleep as she healed from the gunshot wound? She can muster only flashes. Bandages peeled back, the angry pink of her shoulder. A meal eaten on an unmade bed. A dusty glass of water Malcolm gave her to wash down the pills. The tide in and out on a beach. Malcolm there, Malcolm gone. And then, Malcolm arriving with the folder, offering her a new assignment.

    I think you’d be good for this case, he’d said. It’s a place called High River. A place for women like you.

    Something had roused Clare then. Her second case. A chance to right the wrongs of her first effort, to prove she might actually be good at this work. For twenty-four hours she’d pored over the folder: Sally Proulx and her two-year-old son, William, swept away days ago by the same river Clare watches out this window now. She’d papered the wall of her motel room with the timeline and backstory, photos and police reports. Photos of Sally in her previous life, before she and William arrived in High River. As Clare worked, a strange energy bolted through her. She couldn’t sleep. She wouldn’t talk to Malcolm. She cut back on the pills, holding her breath against the waves of pain and nausea. This time, she would be prepared. She would invent a version of herself that fit in at High River. Go undercover. Learn from her mistakes. It only occurs to her now that Malcolm probably chose this case because he knew it would hit too close to home for Clare to refuse it.

    With a gasp, Raylene sits up in bed, eyes wide. “No!” she says. “No.”

    Her eyes search the room until she spots Clare crouched at the open window.

    “It’s okay,” Clare says.

    Raylene’s eyes are unfocused, afraid.

    “You were dreaming,” Clare whispers. “Go back to sleep.”

    As if never awake, Raylene slides down the bed until her head lands softly on her pillow.

    Rain. Clare extends her hand through the open window to catch the first drops on her palm. She can never remember her own dreams. It used to suit Clare to forget, to abandon the details of her life before this one, those many months on the run before she met Malcolm Boon. Before Malcolm hired her to do this strange work of searching for lost or missing women, before her first case in Blackmore. Before the bullet wound and the blur of days spent recovering at that seaside motel. As they drove to High River yesterday, southward to this thick heat, Malcolm kept such quiet that when he spoke, his voice startled Clare.

    Remember, he said. We got lucky on the Blackmore case.

    We got lucky, Clare repeated, hand resting on the shotgun wound just inches from her heart. Lucky.

    What I mean, Malcolm said, is that missing women don’t always turn up alive.

    Forget luck, Clare wanted to say. Instead she looked out her window in silence, any change in the landscape masked by the gas stations and fast-food joints on repeat at every interchange. Mile after mile she mulled the details of the High River case. The little boy and his mother. Fixating on the details of the case distracted Clare from the pain in her shoulder, from the panic, the need for one more pill to take the edge off. She committed everything in that file to memory, every detail of Sally Proulx’s story absorbed, Clare an actor learning her part. This time, she will play Sally’s friend, a more direct route into the story than she took last time. But now that she’s here in High River, Clare feels uncertain she’s made the right choice in agreeing to take on this case. She stares at the white cross, at the swaying tentacles of the willow tree. Her chest hurts. Her shoulder hurts. It feels hard to breathe in this heat. She thinks of the letter from her husband that she carries in her bag.

    I can’t forget you, my Clare. You’re still mine.

    Eighteen, Clare thinks. Eighteen days since she left Blackmore with Malcolm, driving west to the ocean and that motel, the letter from Jason in her back pocket. Two hundred and twenty-five days since she left Jason, sprinting through the snowy back fields to the car she’d hidden under a sheet. A long-planned escape from a vicious husband. A life left behind months ago. But no matter how much time passes, she can’t seem to stop counting the days.

    Do you know about this place?

    It was Raylene who’d asked her this question as they lay in the dark last night, hours after Clare first arrived. Clare had feigned sleep instead of answering. Yesterday she’d felt certain she was equipped for this. She’d felt certain she’d learned all she could about High River, that this time her cover would be rock solid. Clare glances over her shoulder to Raylene, curled into fetal position, a pained look on her face as she sleeps. Clare looks back at the river, then presses the window all the way closed, her hands shaking with pain or withdrawal or panic, she can never tell which anymore.

    It doesn’t matter if I’m ready, Clare thinks. I’m here.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Still Water 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
    Fictionophile 6 months ago
    Two years ago I read and enjoyed a novel called "Still Mine" so I was pleased to be able to read the sequel, "Still Water". If anything, I enjoyed it even more than the first novel - it's always great when that happens! Don't worry though if you haven't read the first novel, as this could read very well as a stand-alone. The author recaps the history of the characters just enough that you wouldn't feel you had missed out on something. That being said, I'm glad I read "Still Mine" so as to better understand Clare's history and her life. Like the first book, Still Water is an engrossing, character-driven psychological thriller. In my review of the first book, I wrote "Clare's character is mysterious throughout. The reader keeps turning pages to discover little clues to her very damaged past." Now, with "Still Water", we learn more about Clare, though she remains mysterious. We learn more about her past, yet there are enough gaps in her memory that there is surely fodder for more books in this excellent series. Amy Stuart writes skillfully about women with horrendous stories of domestic and emotional abuse that could make you gasp. It was nice to read that her protagonist, Clare, is coming to consider this new job of hers more of a 'calling'. She becomes absorbed by the work of searching for the missing and those on the run. I liked that the entire novel took place in the span of one week. This is a novel that describes how trust is very difficult for people who have been abused by the very people who are supposed to love them most. A novel of secrets kept, and secrets discovered. A novel of guilty people, whether or not they should feel guilty. A book of survival. Highly recommended!
    Xkoqueen 10 months ago
    Still Waters run deep, and apparently so do the rushing currents of the river in the town of High River. I did not read Amy Stuart’s first book, however, I had no problem jumping into this second installment. The book starts with a jolt, as the main character, Clare, awakes disoriented in a strange room. The stark hook set the mood for the entire story. Ms. Stuart’s intense story telling had me glued to my seat; I read the book in one sitting! Perfectly paced, the story reveals and eventually unravels the myriad lies and secrets of the residents of High River. The tension and distrust between all the characters is palpable. The story is told in a third person narrative primarily from Clare’s experience. As some of her past is revealed, her reliability wanes. However, none of the characters are more mysterious than Malcolm Boon, Clare’s “boss”. I liked and disliked both these main characters. The dislike comes from the sense that they cannot be trusted, and their likability stems from their inherent vulnerabilities. Still water is filled with twists and turns. The big city police who are assigned the case, Rourke and Somers, are fantastic secondary characters. Some characters might seem like throwaways, but they allow the author to make a statement about gender inequities in relationships and society. Riveting from the first page to the last, Still Water is an engaging book. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Stuart’s series!
    Candice_S 11 months ago
    One amazing read that I devoured this past week is Still Water by Amy Stuart. It is one of the quickest paced psychological mystery thrillers that I’ve read recently. This book is compelling as all get out - the story is based on Clare, who is hired to track down a missing woman and her son who mysteriously disappeared from a private home that’s run as a refuge for abused women. Clare has her own past demons that make the perfect cover for why she has shown up asking questions about where Sally and her son have gone. It doesn’t take long for Clare to realize that there are people besides her who are involved and also keeping secrets and that those secrets might be a lot darker than she ever expected. This book is the perfect summer read - fast, absorbing and with characters who are impossible to figure out. I absolutely loved how Amy wove pieces of every characters individual backstory into the present events without ever losing focus from the mystery in the middle of the story. And I LOVED Clare, as I knew I would when I realized that we had a perfectly flawed lead character (my favorite). While this is the second book featuring Clare, you definitely can read this as a stand alone, as it shares enough of Clare's back story to understand where she is currently. I cannot recommend this book enough. Although - Trigger Warning - this book DOES deal with extreme domestic abuse, and if that is a trigger for you, I would recommend proceeding carefully. . For those looking for a great mystery to add to your July TBR - give this one a go!
    SheTreadsSoftly 11 months ago
    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