Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

Happy, happy US release day to author Joël Dicker whose The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair hits shelves today!

With a deadline looming and a crippling case of writer's block holding him up, Marcus Goldman is in real danger of breaching his publishing contract. Desperate, he reaches out to the one man he believes will be able to help - his mentor, Harry Quebert. Harry invites him to his home as a retreat and a place to concentrate and write. But while looking for inspiration (snooping for Quebert's own famous manuscript), Marcus makes a startling discovery: back in the 70s Harry fell in love with a teenager half his age. The girl in question, Nola Kellergan, went missing that same summer. 

Marcus's time with Harry comes to an end and he still has no manuscript to speak of. He no sooner returns to New York ready to admit defeat when he receives a disturbing call. The body of Nola Kellergan has been discovered on Harry's property and the author is in police custody awaiting prosecution for her murder. Marcus is certain Harry is innocent of the crime and returns to the author's home intent on proving his innocence. His investigation not only stirs up trouble, leading to threats and insistence that Marcus leave town, but also uncovers a number of questions about Nola and other locals. Consequently, the case also gives Marcus the inspiration he's been seeking in his writing as he vows to write a book in Harry's honor, restoring his name. 

It's no secret I've been looking forward to this book for quite some time and the extended holiday weekend was the perfect opportunity to dive in! Now, there is a certain amount of trepidation in approaching a BIG book on my HIGHLY anticipated list. You know, the fear that it just won't live up to the expectation that's been building for MONTHS.

And this one came with a lot of anticipation. To the point that reading just about anything else was becoming overwhelmingly difficult simply because I wanted to read The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. But (wait, that's deserving of all caps) BUT I can happily report that Dicker did not disappoint in any way shape or form!

From the very start, with Marcus's plight as a writer unable to produce, Dicker had me in his storytelling grip. The book is propelled forward by flashbacks throughout Marcus's investigation - and not just flashbacks to 1975. The reader gets glimpses of Marcus's path to becoming a writer, his meeting Harry, and Harry's "rules for writing" as well. In fact, the chapter countdown is just that - a backwards count beginning with 31 and each headed up with one of Harry's tips for writing (boxing and life).

Marcus and Harry are joined by a bevy of colorful characters, all of whom make up the fabric of the small town of Somerset, New Hampshire. There's a crusty cop who becomes one of Marcus's strongest allies, Harry's friends (some of whom abandon him as soon as he's accused and others who turn out to be more steadfast), and a number of possible suspects in Nola's murder.

And then there's Nola herself. Though she's only present through flashbacks and Marcus's discoveries, she obviously looms over the entire story. Her character is particularly interesting because of the way the story plays out. She begins simply as a fifteen year old who captures the heart of a thirty+ author and then becomes the victim of a horrific crime. (Or maybe not simply all things considered.) As we learn more about her, she transforms into something much more complex.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is worthy of all the hype. It's a quick read - in spite of it's more than 600 pages - filled with surprise twists. And, as a person who does read a number of translations, I should point out that Sam Taylor's work is pretty impeccable: his translation is so incredibly smooth I'd never actually know it was a translation had I now read the title page.

I highly, highly recommend this one for anyone looking for a really great read!

Rating: 5/5

1 comment:

Georgette Spelvin said...

I've been looking forward to this Dicker book, too, and I'm thrilled you loved it, Becky. Moving it up in my pile of books....