Friday, January 24, 2014

Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

In 1931, a widow from suburban Chicago, Asta Eicher, began to correspond with a man she met through a lonely hearts club advertisement. Deceived by his promises of marriage and financial security, she agreed to accompany him on a trip to his farm in West Virginia. He later returned without her to fetch her three children. None of them were seen again. But Asta was not as alone as the other victims of this serial killer, Harry Powers. Friends and neighbors became alarmed and alerted the police and press to their disappearance. Emily Thornhill, a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, traveled to Quiet Dell in West Virginia, where the Eichers’ bodies had been found. A woman in what was then considered a man’s profession, she used her intelligence, skill, fortitude and intuition to track down Powers’ true identity as well as report the story for her newspaper. Quiet Dell is based on a true crime, one that author Jayne Anne Phillips heard about from her mother who grew up in the Quiet Dell area. Despite its subject matter, this book is neither a mystery nor thriller. It is rather an examination of the human condition, of love, hate, fear, hope, greed, generosity and loneliness. And as Phillips tells the story, some good comes out of unspeakable evil.