Title: SUCH A QUIET PLACE
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Read: May 2021
Expected publication: 13 July 2021
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟
Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet
place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on
neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out
for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year
and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable
to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated
by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And
now, Ruby’s back.
With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?
Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.
I love books about toxic neighbourhoods because the dynamics can be so interesting and hair-raising. Megan Miranda is an author who has an eye for interpersonal relationships and never fails to create a dark sense of menace simply by her characters’ interactions, which makes for an intriguing read.
At first glance, Hollow’s Edge looks like the type of quiet and idyllic neighbourhood everyone would want to live in. Situated on the shores a large picturesque lake, with a large nearby college supplying jobs for most of the townfolk, it seems like a safe haven for all its residents. At least it was, until Brandon and Fiona Truett were murdered whilst asleep in their beds. It didn’t take long for the residents to band together and find a likely suspect, the Truett’s dog walker Ruby, who was later convicted of their murder. But now Ruby is back after her conviction has been overturned, and she appears totally unperturbed by her neighbours’ hostility and suspicion. What is Ruby’s agenda? Is she out to prove her innocence or does she want revenge?
As with Miranda’s previous books, SUCH A QUIET PLACE is a slow burning, character driven mystery that unravels slowly as the tension creeps up. Rather than idyllic, I found the atmosphere of the tall fences and security cameras watching your every move unsettling and claustrophobic, which may have been the author’s intent. However, I admit that at times I struggled to keep up my interest, which was mainly to do with the bunch of unlikeable, dull characters at Hollow’s Edge, none of whom prompted emotional engagement on my part. And though I warmed a bit more to Harper as the story progressed, I was constantly puzzled by her decisions and never quite understood what motivated her. Would you let the person convicted of a murder in your neighbourhood move back into your house as a flatmate, even if it that will alienate you from the rest of the residents? I just couldn’t get my head around it, despite Harper’s protestations that this was a perfectly reasonable decision. Some of the elements that could have been creepy and threatening lost a lot of their impact seen through Harper’s eyes, because she was just so indecisive and – ok, let’s put it out there – as dull as the rest of the neighbourhood and a pushover to boot. But that could also have been part of the whole ploy, as later developments showed.
From here follows a back and fro of suspicions cast by all the residents onto each other, and quite a few well worn thriller tropes make an appearance: threatening notes delivered through mailboxes, people sneaking around in the night and shadowy images caught on people’s security cameras. I was pleased to see the tension creep up a bit as Ruby’s actions escalated, but the events about 75% into the book brought a strange sense of letdown for me – until that final twist that is one of Miranda’s hallmarks and proved most of my theories wrong.
Megan Miranda is a great writer who can create an atmospheric story with her keen eye for human relationships, even if this time the dynamics didn’t work as well for me as with her previous books. SUCH A QUIET PLACE will appeal to readers who like a story based on neighbourhood dynamics, where suspicions are cast upon each and every character and everyone has a skeleton or two in their closet.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.