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August 30, 1975: The day 15-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods before she disappears; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.
Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of America's most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer's block as his publisher's deadline looms. But Marcus's plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan - whom, he admits, he had an affair with.
As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a successful and true novel?
A global phenomenon, with sales approaching a million copies in France alone and rights sold in more than 30 countries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller and an ingenious book within a book, by a dazzling young writer.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kathi on 05-28-14
Very good--but not a blockbuster
This turns out to be a rather intricate story that begins innocently enough. Marcus Goldman, a young man who has struggled with self-esteem in high school so much, that he has re-invented himself to become "Marcus The Magnificent." But he gets this title (partly in his own mind) by doing things in which it is so easy to excel that he gets a lot of (undeserved) adoration from others. He vaguely feels himself to be a bit of a fraud.
However, when, as an adult, he finds himself faced with writer's block and a huge book contract to fulfill, he has to face his own fear of failure. So he goes back to Somerset, NH to consult with his old friend and mentor, Harry Quebert. Harry is a successful author whom Marcus turns to for support and encouragement, just at the time when the body of Nora Kellergan is discovered. It turns out that when Harry was 34 and Nora 15, they had had an affair. And then she disappeared and it is only now, years later, that the case is re-opened because the body has at last been found. Buried on his property.
This is a book that is interesting, held my attention for sure, but puzzling at some level. The story builds with a large number of suspects that grow as the story progresses, and the plot development and twists and turns--especially at the end, are probably what holds the book together.
However, I found the contrast of characters who were often meant to be amusing (but occasionally were simply silly or unbelievable) with this murder investigation not to work as well as I would have wished. Possibly the author tried to put too much into the book--I don't know.
What works very well, is his clever use of a "story within a story" technique, in which he has Marcus finally write the book that has eluded him, by investigating the murder of Nora, in order to free his old friend who is immediately suspected of having killed her, and then arrested. This provides lots of space for Joel Dicker to explore what it means to be a writer, the behind the scenes aspects of writing that a reader would not be privy to, and the interaction between writer and publisher. I found that part to be very interesting and unusual.
This is a good book, and appears to have received rave reviews from everywhere. I liked it, but I didn't think it rose to the 5 star level in any category. Now that I have finished it, I find myself ironically comparing this whole work to the original "Marcus the Magnificent"--who got a lot of praise by accomplishing something rather too easily. It is surely worth the read, and others may find it more of a blockbuster than I did. But I found the writing itself pretty plain (possibly due to translation) and some of the characters were just off-putting instead of humorous (as I think the author intended). I do recommend this book--these are just my own reactions to it. The story and mystery are quite well put together and overall, despite my discomfort with some characters, was a fun read (listen).
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
By MHR on 01-05-15
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Nothing. I eventually decided it was not salvageable
What was most disappointing about Joel Dicker’s story?
the characters were uninteresting and one dimensional. The story line was too simplistic. The dialogue belonged in a children's book.
What didn’t you like about Pierce Cravens’s performance?
He read it like he thought it was a children's book.
What character would you cut from The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair?
If one eliminated the narrator, that would solve everything.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful