I found Quiet Dell at the library. It was on display at the end of a bookshelf. The synopsis seemed interesting, so I added it to my reading list. Quiet Dell is a novel written by Jayne Anne Phillips. It is based on real life events in 1931, but has been fictionalized.

The story is presented in a rather interesting manner. The reader is first introduced to the victims. The Eicher family has been living in genteel poverty since the death of Mr. Eicher several years before the book begins. Their situation becomes even more precarious after the death of Mr. Eicher’s mother, the matriarch of the family. Asta Eicher has been corresponding with a man she met through a lonely hearts service, and she believes that this man is the solution to all of her problems. But he is not, and within a month, Asta and her three children are dead.

After the murders, the readers are introduced to Emily Thornhill, an intrepid young journalist writing about the investigation. She travels to West Virginia with an associate for the trial, and is determined to do anything she can to ensure that the killer is brought to justice.

There were some plot elements that seemed to be a little too farfetched, but I would recommend suspending disbelief and skepticism. The love story and the plucky orphan do add some depth to the plot, and both were nice foils for Emily.

I would recommend Quiet Dell. The fact that the events were based on real events made it even more chilling. I found the beginning to be particularly heartwrenching, because I knew that the family was going to die. Each of the children was absolutely precious. The oldest daughter had some minor developmental delays, and she was gentle and trusting. The middle child and only boy was steadfast and determined to provide for his family. The youngest girl was fanciful and prone to writing plays. Getting to know the family before the heinous crime endeared me to the family more than if the book had begun with the investigation into their deaths. I can only assume that this was Phillips’ intention, and I can assure you that it worked. If you would like some more information, you can find it here: Quiet Dell: A Novel

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