Author: Clémence Michallon
Published by: Knopf Canada on Jun. 20, 2023
Source: Penguin Random House
Book Rating: 9/10
A pulse-pounding psychological thriller about a serial killer narrated by those closest to him: His 13-year-old daughter, his girlfriend—and the one victim he has spared
Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man and a somewhat beloved figure in the small upstate New York town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret he’s been keeping from everyone in town and those closest to him. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life.
When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his thirteen-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Aidan is betting on Rachel, after five years of captivity, being too brainwashed and fearful to attempt to escape. But Rachel is a fighter and survivor, and recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.
Told through the perspectives of Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily, The Quiet Tenant explores the psychological impact of Aidan’s crimes on the women in his life—and the bonds between those women that give them the strength to fight back. Both a searing thriller and an astute study of trauma, survival, and the dynamics of power, The Quiet Tenant is an electrifying debut thriller by a major talent.
Unsettling, unique, and intricate!
The Quiet Tenant is a skillfully plotted, sinister tale that takes you into the life of Aidan Taylor, a hardworking, handsome widower who appears to be an honest, loyal, single father in need of a little help, but behind that friendly smile lies a depraved secret and a dark impulse to confine, violate, and murder that only a few know about, most of whom are already dead, one of whom desperately needs to escape, and one of whom may just become his next victim.
The writing is sharp and crisp. The characters are secretive, cunning, and vulnerable. And the plot, told from multiple perspectives, builds quickly, creating intensity and suspense as it unravels all the relationships, motivations, personalities, deception, and devious behaviours within it.
Overall, The Quiet Tenant is a fast-paced, unnerving, impressive debut by Michallon that does an exceptional job of eerily reminding us that even the most heinous of evil often live comfortably amongst us merely hidden behind masks of normality.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.