Saturday, July 29, 2023

The Quiet Tenant by Clémence Michallon

The Quiet Tenant
Clémence Michallon
Published June 20, 2023 by Knopf

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 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.

4 Stars

He comes to you like clockwork, bringing you the necessities, taking what he wants, before he locks you away again. You are Rachel and he saved you. He's a father, a revered member of the community, a handsome new boyfriend, and a kidnapper and serial killer. You have been kept alive, but he is moving and you would do anything to stay alive, to find your way out finally. So, you agree to the rules, you befriend his daughter Cecelia, you plot the method to your escape. You are the quiet tenant.

What do you say about a book that kept you on the edge of your seat, reading nonstop for two hours, because you could not possibly stop and leave a woman in captivity? The Quiet Tenant is a psychological thriller that does not hold the fast-paced nature of my usual edge-of-my-seat thrillers. It is a slow, descriptive study of the impacts of Aidan Thomas, a man who is beloved, a man who kills. You cannot know what is to come in The Quiet Tenant, it's written so cleverly, from the perspectives of three women held captive by Aiden in their own unique ways. It is a book that leaves you desperate to act on behalf of the characters, desperate to protect, to save, to force into fleeing. You are, at times, immensely impressed by the characters vigilance and at other times scared, worried that the chance has passed them by. A debut that reads like the author's tenth piece of work, The Quiet Tenant is an incredible work of psychological behavior that will stay with you forever.

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