I talked about my most recent read in my last blog post. Joel Dicker’s The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.
You probably haven’t heard about this book if you live in the US, but it’s been an international hit. Dicker was nominated for several international book awards for this work.
Word of warning, the novel is more than 600 pages long, but it’s well worth the time it takes to read. (Don’t let EW’s listing of the book as one of the worst 5 of the year turn you off of it. The ranking appears to be based on lackluster sales, not the book’s content.)
The novel is set in New Hampshire in 2008 (and the past) and focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl and the murder of a woman who called police after seeing the girl running from a man in the woods.
Over the course of those 600+ pages, Dicker writes of a young writer, Marcus Goldman, who is in New Hampshire to clear the name of his friend and mentor Harry Quebert, who was charged with the murders after the body of the 15-year-old girl, Nola, was found on his property.
Also turns out Quebert was having an affair with Nola.
To make it easier to follow: Quebert, a writer, mentored and befriend Goldman, also a writer. More than 30 years ago, Quebert had an affair with 15-year-old Nola. The body of Nola was found in Quebert’s yard, he was arrested and charged. Goldman’s seeking to clear his name by writing a book about the case.
As a reader of mysteries, I tend to try and figure out the who in whodunnit fairly early on in books. Dicker got me, I’ll admit it. I thought I had it all figured out (and there weren’t possibly enough pages left in the book for a twist). Boy, was I wrong.
Dicker superbly drops twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing the entire book. There’s a deep, complex pool of suspects and the 33 years that have passed since the case began don’t help to make things easier to decipher.
The ending left me wanting more, but there were really no more questions to answer.
Dicker divides the book into 31 chapters, in descending order (starting with 31 and the final chapter as 1). Each chapter begins with one of Quebert’s 31 life lessons he tries to teach Goldman.
Goldman uses those to benchmark his telling of the investigation, what preceded it, what happened during it, his publication of a book about the investigation and the aftermath that leads to the discovery of the truth.
Dicker’s prose is brilliant and lyrical while being easy to read. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional. This is the type of book I would love to see play out on the big screen. This seems to have all the makings of a Hollywood movie: mystery, thrills, suspense, a little sex.
It took me nearly a month to read this book, mainly because my time has gotten pulled in every direction but reading. But once I hit the last 150 pages or so, I couldn’t do anything but finish the book. I had to know how it ended.
I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries. The intrigue and suspense are on a level I have not encountered for quite some time. Bravo to Dicker for this masterpiece.