Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips is a story based on truth. It weaves fact with fiction to tell us the story of a con man who preyed on widows back in the 1930’s. His history and arrest all came to light after the multiple murder of a woman and her children. Quiet Dell is a moving and emotional story that highlights a devastating tragedy.
Asta Eicher is a young woman when her husband dies suddenly and she is left with three young children to care for. Eventually her financial situation becomes dire and she makes the decision to look for a husband. She puts an ad into a matchmaking publication and begins to receive very promising letters from a man who calls himself Cornelius Pierson. He promises her everything but most importantly he promises to care for her and her children. She agrees to meet with him and go away for a week. At the end of that week Asta and her children are dead.
At this point Emily Thornhill enters the picture. She is one of the few women journalists working for the Chicago Press. She becomes obsessed with the case and finding out exactly what happened to the Eicher family. The majority of the novel focuses on the trial and also a romance that develops between Emily and a banker that had been close to the Eicher family.
For the most part I enjoyed the novel. I was fascinated with the Eicher case as I had never heard of it before or the serial killer Harry Powers. I was most drawn to the parts that related to the case. I liked Emily as a character but I found the romance that was included in the storyline with her and the banker something that wasn’t needed. I would have preferred her focus being entirely on the Eicher case.
I listened to the audio version of Quiet Dell which is narrated by Tandy Cronyn. I have never listened to her before but I wouldn’t hesitate to again. She has a quiet, soothing voice that lent very well to the serious subject matter addressed in this novel. So while there were some aspects of the story I wasn’t fond of the audio production itself is very well done and Tandy Cronyn definitely brought the power and emotion of this novel to life.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.