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"The Quiet Tenant" | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider

She’s been kept prisoner in the garden shed for five years, this woman he renames Rachel. He brings her food and water daily and uses her for his sexual needs, as he sees fit.

“In the hierarchy of (her) body, (she is) the tenant and he is the landlord.”

Aidan Thomas is her captor. He can beat her at will and end her life any time he chooses. Then she’d be added to the list of women he’s murdered, a death count included in the potboiler, “The Quiet Tenant” a page turner if there ever was one, by Clémence Michallon. Get ready to race through this one—it’s unputdownable.

Aidan, like so many like him, fits the persona of serial killers we see on the news. He’s the last person in the world anyone would call evil or twisted. Married with a young teenage daughter, Aidan reaches out to help others in his job as a lineman in the community. He’s at everyone’s beck and call, eager to be of assistance. He also elicits immediate sympathy when his young wife dies of cancer, leaving his daughter Cecilia solely in his care. People feel so bad for Aidan’s loss—no one knows he’s a monster.

On a regular basis, charismatic, well dressed, clean-cut Aidan frequents the local bar, one operated by Emily, a pretty, young, vulnerable bartender. Emily is taken with Aidan, growing obsessed with him when he comes to the bar every Tuesday and Thursday, never having a mixed drink, instead opting for Cherry Coke. Emily’s known Aidan since she was 13, but now she’s a woman and she’s under his spell, like so many other females before her.

In short, scatter-shot chapters narrated by Emily, Rachel and Cecilia, readers follow Aidan’s psychotic entrapment of Rachel, and worry that Emily might be his next victim, that her time is running out. The noose of tension gradually tightens in a psychological thriller that I thought might tip the scale of too grisly or graphic but instead is brilliantly told, its pacing perfection.

Though “The Quiet Tenant” is reminiscent of “The Room” by Emma Donuhue, the captor in “The Quiet Tenant” complicates Rachel’s life even more with a bombshell that provides a clever twist. Aiden tells Rachel he’s going to have to move—no more garden shed for his girl. Aiden has new digs in mind for Rachel.

Though the plot of this must-read might not be entirely plausible, it certainly makes for an entertaining, well written thriller sure to move up the bestseller list—pure escapism—but not for Rachel. At least not immediately.

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