Book Twenty Seven 2014:
The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker
This one comes much trumpeted as a book that’s already been a huge European hit prior to this English translation. Warner Bros have just bought the movie rights. All I read are sparkling reviews about how it’s the best thing since the last best thing and the future of thrillers.
So why didn’t it work for me?
Don’t get me wrong, for most of its 600-odd pages it’s a well drawn, atmospheric page turner about a blocked author desperate to write a second book after a sensational first one. He turns, as a last resort, to his mentor and college professor, the great Harry Quebert; a man who himself became a publishing sensation in the 70s after moving to a tiny New Hampshire town where he now lives.
It gives away nothing of the book (as it happens so early on) to say that the body is found of a girl who went missing in 1975 and Harry is the prime suspect…
I have 2 enormous grumps, I suppose – one is that the many, many, MANY twists in the last third are, for me, incredibly convoluted, unbelievable and far too drawn out. It makes a potentially tight, believable 500 page book a flabby 600+ one.
Maybe it’s because we’re all experts after watching years of procedural cop dramas but there are a couple of holes in here so big I could drive a bus through. Holes that belong somewhere beneath a poor episode of Elementary and just about above one of the better episodes of Criminal Minds.
I was actually yelling at the book for them to do something blindingly obvious. Eventually they do and the case cracks…
My other gripe is the dialogue that, in places, reads like a bad episode of Fair City. Don’t believe me? Find some. Read it. Try not to laugh. I would say it could be a poor translation but Sam Taylor is responsible. He also did Laurent Binet’s fantastic HhHH, so that’s probably not it.
That’s not to say the whole book is terrible, far from it, but the problems above poke such huge holes in the boat that, for me, by the end it had sunk without trace.
The book at one point says the following…
My problem is that half a second after finishing this I was overwhelmed by a particular feeling.