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Still Waters


Still Waters

“Listen, I have some bad news. Mack is dead.”

Those are the first words Liv has spoken to her brother, Gabe, in over a year. Nonetheless, the news comes as a shock, even though neither was especially close to their older brother. Somehow, the Ahlstroms allowed themselves to drift apart. Far apart. Emotionally and physically. Mack lived in Boston, Liv in New York, and Gabe in LA. Now Mack is gone. A seizure, they said. Neither Liv nor Gabe knew that Mack had any health issues, but then, there’s that distance to consider again.

After making arrangements to meet at the funeral, they hang up. At that point, Liv’s laptop dings, signaling a new email. It’s from none other than Mack himself. It says something along the lines of, “If you’re reading this, I’m dead.” For the second time in over a year, Liv calls Gabe. It turns out that he received the same message; Mack claimed someone had been trying to kill him.

"Matt Goldman writes dialogue with an easy pen, cueing the reader to who is speaking without the need for identification. His characters are rich and full, unique and entirely themselves."

So begins a somewhat covert investigation by the surviving Ahlstrom siblings into their brother’s death. Liv and Gabe haven’t seen eye to eye in forever. So why do they think they can work together now? Liv is the driven, determined one; Gabe is a guy who never quite believes in himself. Liv figures that if Gabe wants to help, that’s fine. But when another posthumous message from Mack arrives, this one warning them to stay away from Ahlstrom’s, the family resort they all spent summers enjoying in their youth, Gabe spirals into a full-blown panic. By now, they have arrived at Ahlstrom’s and are planning a memorial for Mack. Their uncle Denny currently owns the resort, keeping it in the family.

But there are sinister forces at work trying to wrestle the land away. Liv convinces Gabe to stick around a while longer to help find the answers. Answers are hard to come by, though, not only because they seem to be the only ones who believe Mack might have been murdered, but also because at least one person wants them to drop their probe and just go home. However, in their digging, they’ve learned a shocking truth about their mother that changes the very foundation of their childhood.

As the snow and ice of the early Minnesota spring begin to melt, the somber service meant to honor Mack’s memory is thrown into chaos with another horrific tragedy. Liv and Gabe may have spent decades at odds with each other, but now they must pull together in order to save their family heritage. And maybe their very lives. Just knowing who to trust becomes almost as important as locking their doors at night.

In their search for answers, are they tipping their hand to the wrong person? If so, it could be a fatal mistake. A little balance comes in the form of Gabe’s LA neighbor (and budding love interest), Carly. She has insights to which the Ahlstrom offspring are blind. If not for Carly, the story might have ended very differently.

STILL WATERS explores the dynamics of a family grown apart but brought together by tragedy. Forced to examine their lives in a new light, both Liv and Gabe realize they have been going through the motions without seeing the truth. Matt Goldman writes dialogue with an easy pen, cueing the reader to who is speaking without the need for identification. His characters are rich and full, unique and entirely themselves. This isn’t simply a mystery; it's an immersive experience with the goal of answering the question: Who did it?

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 25, 2024

Still Waters
by Matt Goldman