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Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

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Steven King called this book "the novel of the year." Quiet Dell is a small community about five miles southeast of Clarksburg, West Virginia. In 1931, a serial killer, Harry Powers, a con-man who preyed upon widows, committed multiple murders here. Powers hardly appears in this novel. Instead, the story is told through the experience of Emily Thornhill, a Chicago journalist who wants to understand the murder of  Asta Eicher, a widow, and her three children. “An extraordinary achievement, a mesmerizing blend of fact and fiction that borrows from the historical record, including trial transcripts and newspaper accounts, but is cloaked in the shimmering language of a poet.” - Associated Press. “Phillips, an acclaimed writer of largely contemporary fiction, this time draws on history .…But if the factual underpinnings of this latest novel are unusual for Phillips, her ability to transform them into a fictionalized narrative place her at the top of her form. … As Phillips has proved throughout her decades of fiction writing, there is evil in the world, but there are some who will stand in its way.” - Celia McGee. Jayne Anne Phillips was born and raised in Buckhannon, West Virginia, graduated from W.V. U. and then left for California. Her first story collection, Black Tickets (1979), was a dramatic critical and popular success. Her first novel, Machine Dreams (1984), captured the contrast between my father's World War II generation and my Vietnam generation better than any book I have read. The three novels between it and Quiet Dell established Phillips as a major American author. She has taught at Harvard and other universities, but her crowning achievement in the field of education was as the founding director of the Rutgers University MFA program at Newark, New Jersey, one of the most highly-regarded and diverse creative writing programs in America. She has recently retired from that position.

New York: Scribner/Simon and Schuster, 2013, 445 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.