Quiet Dell: a Novel, by Jayne Anne Phillips. Scribner, 2013

In the 1930s, the Dutch-born son of an immigrant family chose an unconventional way to raise himself out of poverty. He answered ads in "lonely hearts" columns of the newspapers in various cities, and placed his own ads, as well. He used several aliases to woo and win wealthy widows, persuaded them to empty their bank accounts, and then murdered them.

Quiet Dell is the story of one of the families he victimized, told from the viewpoint of a Chicago journalist and her photographer companion as they pieced together the story of missing widow Asta Eicher and her three children. This particular incident spawned several books and movies about Hermann Drenth, (aka Harry Powers, Cornelius O. Pierson, and A. R. Weaver,) including David Grubb's Night of the Hunter.

For those who enjoy true crime, the author deftly tells the story, revealing details one by one, until the unexpected final Reveal at the end.