This book is like the Inception of books. It’s a thriller, it involves someone being killed and it is stars Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m just kidding. But it is a book, set out as a series of tips for writing a book, while an author writes a book, about another author who wrote a book about what happened in his life.

In short…BOOKS! In all seriousness though, I wonder if reading this book means I’ve actually read about 5 in 1?

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is the highly publicised novel by Swiss author Joel Dicker. It’s sold over one million copies, it has been translated into 32 languages (it was originally in French) and it won the Grand Prix amongst other awards. If you’re still not impressed, it also knocked off 50 Shades of Grey off the bestsellers list. So let’s just rejoice in that fact, shall we? Also, Joel Dicker is only 28. So let’s also feel like we haven’t accomplished anything (unless J K Rowling is reading this. If so, you’re excused).

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a crime novel that centres around a small town in New Hampshire. The body of a young woman is found on Harry Quebert’s property. Not only is Harry the only suspect to the crime that occurred 33 years ago, but his manuscript to his most famous book is found with the skeleton. Also, he was romantically involved with the victim, Nola, at the time of her death…and he was in his thirties at the time.

Marcus Goldman, protegee to Harry and acclaimed author himself, travels to the scene of the crime to determine what really happened, believing that Harry is innocent. In the process he unfolds the ever-complex mystery behind the elusive Nola, and writes a best-selling book in the process, asking the ultimate question:

“If Harry didn’t kill Nola, then who did?”

I’m not usually a big crime reader but this book caught my interest when one of the reviews on the back cover declared it a combination of Twin Peaks, In Cold Blood and Atonement. In my mind, that equated to a creepy murder story where the person responsible was acting in revenge and out of love.

I was about 70% right: I guessed the killer early on, but had no chance of guessing the motive.

Considering this novel has had such a massive build-up in the media, I had high expectations, and happily, they were met. While I don’t think it is a revolutionary piece of work, or even a piece of literary merit, it was an intriguing and absorbing page-turner right until the end.

Dicker provides enough twists and turns into the novel that despite its length, it doesn’t seem to drag or get boring. There were definitely aspects of the novel that I wasn’t surprised about, but there were also plot developments that were unexpected. Furthermore, while most of the characters in The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair are highly unlikeable and borderline lecherous, I still clung onto the story to make sure that nothing awful was going to happen to them.

One aspect that I felt this novel did lack was the believability of the romance between Harry and Nola. Perhaps it was because of the idea of a grown man with a teenage girl, and I was skeptical already, but I just didn’t feel any romance between them. All of the flashbacks that Dicker uses to show their love for one another was melodramatic and over the top, and while that might be expected of a teenager’s love, it seems peculiar that Harry, a man in his thirties, would act the same. And while people may argue that ‘that’s how people act when they’re in love’ I still don’t really buy it. Dicker portrayed their romance as one big declaration of love, with lots of showiness, but he failed to capture any moments that showed true affection between the characters.

So do I think that The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair deserved to receive such critical acclaim? I honestly couldn’t say. I think there is far better writing out there, and whether or not it was because it had been translated, the editing was absolutely woeful, but I also think that Dicker has created an absorbing story that avoids all of the tired cliches that many crime novels are guilty of. Overall, it’d be a great ‘holiday read’ or if you’ve got a couple of days and you want something truly absorbing, but if you’re picking it solely because it won a big award, then I think you may be a bit disappointed.

Have you read The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair or heard about Joel Dicker? Let me know!

the truth about the harry quebert affair by joel dicker

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – (image taken from http://www.panmacmillan.com.au)

Advertisements