Such a Quiet Place is the fourth of US author, Megan Miranda’s novels I’ve read. It’s about the aftermath of murder in a (kinda) gated community, setting up an intriguing locked room-type mystery. Almost. To the relief of the locals someone was arrested and convicted of the crime. But there’s now the question of whether they were actually guilty.
Such a Quiet Place
by Megan Miranda
Published by Simon & Schuster
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Psychological Thriller
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.
Though I’m usually a fan of Miranda’s work and love some of the clever ways she’s plotted her novels I enjoyed this less than I expected, and I suspect it was a combination of factors.
I very much disliked Ruby. I mean… we’re meant to. I don’t think Miranda has tried to portray her character as sympathetic. At all. But Harper (our narrator) also frustrated me. I – along with the neighbourhood – was agog when Ruby returned to the house she’d shared with Harper without asking, assuming she was still welcome after 14 months. I kept waiting for Harper to say something or at least ask Ruby where she was staying (or similar!) passive-aggressively… if unable to be more blatantly assertive.
But no. There’s a sense of acquiescence and we learn that’s Harper’s greatest weakness. She’s a pushover. We get some backstory / family history and learn more about the ex-fiancee who left her, so can feel some sympathy for her, but she annoyed the hell out of me. To the extent I almost put this book aside.
But Miranda introduces enough intrigue to keep me reading and I easily finished this in a sitting. I was rather happy about the turn of events two-thirds of the way through the novel and it adds a layer of complexity. But the pace remained a little slower than I’d like and even though we ultimately get answers I wasn’t sure I cared enough either way.
Of course there is a deeper context here as Miranda reflects on human behaviour in general. How easily we’re led. How easily we’re convinced to maintain the status quo, keep others happy and be accepted by (and blend in with) those around us. And a sense that – if more time is spent pursuing the truth there’ll be fewer consequences in the long term.
Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.