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Quiet Dell: A Novel Reviews

Quiet Dell: A Novel

Quiet Dell: A Novel

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

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3 Responses to “Quiet Dell: A Novel Reviews”

  1. Sylvia P. says:
    19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    So Promising, So Disappointing, November 3, 2013
    By 
    Sylvia P. (Bell Jar, Idaho) –

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    This review is from: Quiet Dell: A Novel (Hardcover)

    This book is so promising in the first pages with its utterly gorgeous prose, expertly evoking a time that seems, from the 21st century, so simple and kind. The characters, especially Annabelle, actually glow and, in spite of the serene setting, the doom that awaits is palpable, breathing through the door of the warm home in which these characters live. There were a few paragraphs in the first pages that brought tears to my eyes. If Phillips were able to continue with this near perfect prose, she would definitely deserve the Pulitzer and the novel does contain a fascinating tale. Unfortunately, once the event occurs around which the novel is based, the entire thing falls apart and it’s such a disappointment to readers, having been so enticed at the beginning. The journalist who covered the story is now the heroine and the story of the ensuing discovery of the murderer, his trial and his actions are now driving the action. In the meantime, the sub plots thicken and die, their purposes unclear, their actions unbelievable. As soon as the journalist meets the murdered family’s banker, she succombs to him completely and falls in love within one paragraph. Come on! The point at which this happens is a harbinger of the tone and content to come: fantastical actions from all characters and events that are interesting only for their very lack of veracity. A street urchin who robbed the heroine and then is adopted by her is introduced and suddenly transformed into a pseudo-son–so we know the unlikeable heroine has a heart and is a real woman after all–and is just one of the many inane wanderings Phillips injects into the book to move it to its sappy and predictable final pages. I have read so many novels just like this one—the first chapters zing and the rest fizzle so the reader only continues out of some misplaced sense of guilt or buyers’ remorse or whatever it is that makes us finish a book which has long ago lost its appeal—manipulated again by publishers and writers who aren’t interested or capable of writing good fiction.

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  2. Toni Colby says:
    11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Wow!, October 18, 2013
    By 
    Toni Colby (Arena, Wisconsin United States) –

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    Wow. What a wonderful book. If you are unfamiliar with this book, it is based on real life killer Harry Powers. He is also the killer depicted in that classic movie ‘The Night Of The Hunter. Yes. That killer that Robert Mitchum played was based on a real killer. In real life he murdered more people than the movie depicts. They are pretty sure he committed more than he was convicted of as some of the women he corresponded with in the “lonely hearts” columns during the depression, just simply diappeared. They haven’t been seen again after exchanging letters with this remorseless killer. He had no empathy, no compassion, no consciense. I’d like to thank the author for using the fiction story instead of non-fiction. She is able to give you the thoughts of the victims. Getting to know these people, places you there. You find yourself in depression America. You feel like a part of their lives. Like you were a friend. The author gives great attention to detail. This killer had no heart. Knowing the victims as you do while reading this book, the murders tear you apart. I want the author to know I’ve been reading my whole life and her book stands out as one of the best. I’ve read hundreds. So that is no small feat. Good job. If you decide buy this book, as I recommend, have plenty of kleenex handy, as the tears will flow.

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  3. Donna S. Meredith says:
    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Fascinating history but . . ., October 26, 2013
    By 
    Donna S. Meredith (Tallahassee, FL) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

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    Since I grew up in Clarksburg, I was interested in this novel about the Powers murder farm. The research Phillips put into the book is obvious and I really appreciated her effort to bring 1930s Clarksburg to life. Where the novel missed for me were the shifts to present tense and the metaphysical inventions of dead child Annabel flying around above the scenes and the lead reporter seeming to commune with Annabel in dreams. Also the affair between reporter Emily Thornhill and the banker didn’t ring true in several regards: the ridiculously fast onset, and the copulation scene that takes place in a snowstorm outside near downtown Clarksburg. That said, the rest of the novel was fascinating.

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