The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joel Dicker (trans. Sam Taylor)

9780857053091I have decided that the only way to describe this book is ‘twistier than a bucket-full of greased eels’. And that is a good thing, I think. Apart from having to review it without giving too much away, of course…

Harry Quebert is a famous and acclaimed writer living in Somerset, New Hampshire – a coastal village which, given the events of the story, reminded me more than a little of Cabot Cove in Murder, She Wrote – getting by quite nicely until a body is found in the garden of his home. Things start to go really badly for him when it is revealed that the body is that of a 15 year old girl, Nola Kellergan, who went missing over 30 years previously and with whom he was having a relationship at the time of her disappearance. Harry’s protegé, the new wunderkind of American literature, Marcus Goldman sets about investigating Nola’s death in an effort to clear Harry’s name.

On one level this is a crime novel – interestingly one which doesn’t rely on gore or sex but reads more like a 1930’s mystery – but it is also about the relationship between the two authors, the process of writing and true love. There is a large cast of characters, most of whom seem to become suspects at some point or another, who are on the whole well drawn. My only issue is with Goldman’s mother who only seems to exist as a one-dimensional and stereotypical Jewish mother – although she may explain why Marcus has such problems forming relationships…..

I really don’t want to give away too much of the plot since a large part of the enjoyment of the novel is trying to work out what the next twist is going to be. Lets just say that the Harry Quebert Affair will not disappoint if you are looking for a well-written and carefully plotted mystery. It has humour and pathos and, in Nola, a complex and endearing heroine.

Jane

 

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