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Jayne Anne Phillips

Quiet Dell

Jayne Anne Phillips Quiet Dell
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Main description:

From one of America’s most accomplished and acclaimed fiction writers, a spectacularly riveting novel based on a real-life multiple murder by a con man who preyed on widows— a story that has haunted Jayne Anne Phillips for more than four decades

In Chicago in 1931, Asta Eicher, mother of three, is lonely and despairing, pressed for money after the sudden death of her husband. She begins to receive seductive letters from a chivalrous, elegant man named Harry Powers, who promises to cherish and protect her, ultimately to marry her and to care for her and her children. Weeks later, all four Eichers are dead.

Emily Thornhill, one of the few women journalists in the Chicago press, becomes deeply invested in understanding what happened to this beautiful family, particularly to the youngest child, Annabel, an enchanting girl with a precocious imagination and sense of magic. Bold and intrepid, Emily allies herself with a banker who is wracked by guilt for not saving Asta. Emily goes to West Virginia to cover the murder trial and to investigate the story herself, accompanied by a charming and unconventional photographer who is equally drawn to the case.

Driven by secrets of their own, the heroic characters in this magnificent tale will stop at nothing to ensure that Powers is convicted. Mesmerizing and deeply moving, Quiet Dell is a tragedy, a love story, and a tour de force of obsession and imagination from one of America’s most celebrated writers.

Review quote:

Quiet Dell has all the elements of a murder mystery, but its emotional scope is larger and more complex. It combines a strange, hypnotic and poetic power with the sharp tones of documentary evidence. It offers a portrait of rural America in a time of crisis and dramatizes the lives of a number of characters who are fascinating and memorable.”

Review quote:

“A mesmerizing novel drawn from the annals of infamous true crime…Meticulous, engrossing and spellbinding.”

Review quote:

“In Quiet Dell, Phillips mesmerizingly spins together fact and fiction, vividly imagining the circumstances leading to their deaths, and sets a young female reporter on the case to solve it.”

Review quote:

“In a brilliant fusion of fact and fiction, Jayne Anne Phillips has written the novel of the year. It’s the story of a serial killer’s crimes and capture, yes, but it's also a compulsively readable story of how one brave woman faces up to acts of terrible violence in order to create something good and strong in the aftermath. Quiet Dell will be compared to In Cold Blood, but Phillips offers something Capote could not: a heroine who lights up the dark places and gives us hope in our humanity.”

Review quote:

“Jayne Anne Phillips is one of the finest pure stylists in contemporary literature, and she’s found a story that sounds like a perfect match for her talents.”

Review quote:

“Jayne Anne Phillips’s unsettling latest, Quiet Dell, spins out from a true crime story involving a 1930s-era-seducer—think Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter—who preys on a widow and her children.”

Review quote:

“Phillips’s plot is engaging, romantic, and fecund; her characters are beautiful, accomplished, and good—except for the bad guy, who is very bad indeed.”

Review quote:

“Phillips’s prose is as haunting as the questions she raises about the natures of sin, evil and grace.”

Review quote:

“The truth of all of Phillips’ characterizations is what lies behind this careful novel’s compelling momentum.”

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