The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

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The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair
By Joël Dicker

I was really looking forward to this book, I thought the premise was good: a successful author struggling with his second book comes to the rescue of his friend and mentor, Harry Quebert. Harry is accused of the murder of a 15 year old girl whom he is in love with. The body of the girl was discovered in Harry’s back garden 33 years after she went missing.

Unfortunately the book did not live up to the premise. The writing is appalling. At first I thought something had maybe been lost in translation, but I don’t think everything can be blamed on the translator.

There is no depth to any of the characters. You should really be shocked that a 15 year old girl has been brutally murdered and her body lost for 33 years, but because you know nothing about the girl except, ‘she likes dancing on the beach and feeding seagulls’, you really don’t care one jot.

The dialogue is childish in the extreme. The scenes with Marcus’ mother are nothing short of embarrassing and if they are meant as a joke; fail miserably.

There is a character who has been badly disfigured and instead of telling the reader that he has a speech impediment and allowing the reader to use his imagination, the author writes his speeches throughout the book phonetically. It is cringeworthy. I could not read them. Having to skim over them all just to be able to get the gist of what he was saying.

Marcus decides to investigate the murder himself, so he can clear Harry’s name. The police very kindly let him get on with it. Giving him access to all kinds of evidence and in the end they join his investigation.

There are so many twists in the book that when you get to the final one you really have lost the will to live and just want the book to end.

How to sum up this book?
I did manage to finish it. Although very glad when I did. I am mystified as to how it has managed to win awards. If the author has played it for laughs then he has seriously misjudged it. The only time I laughed was on the last writers’ tip, given to Marcus by Harry. It said ‘a good book is a book you are sorry to finish’, and that really did make me laugh.

It does have the makings of a good story and he does keep it moving although there is some repetitiveness. If you can excuse the bad writing and dialogue you may well enjoy it. It could be a good book club choice, it would certainly provoke discussion.
**

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I Am Pilgrim

I Am Pilgrim
By
Terry Hayes

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Can you commit the perfect crime?

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.

But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.

What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

I am Pilgrim is Terry Hayes' first novel. Though he has worked as a screenwriter on major studio productions such as Mad Max 2.

The premise of the book is clever. The protagonist, Scott Murdoch/Pilgrim, worked at the top level of US government intelligence. He is brought back from retirement to search for a man who has plans to destroy America. Plans that in this day and age don't seem so far­fetched.

The story unfolds in a dingy hotel in New York where a woman is found murdered. Using this case Pilgrim is sent on a mission to Turkey to try to stop the deadly plot. The narrative takes us through the back story of not only Pilgrim but his adversary. We journey across continents stopping at Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Greece, France, Germany and Turkey,where most of the action takes place. The locations are well described and give a good sense of place.

The characters are well ­developed and Scott/Pilgrim is intelligent, good and human but above all duty­bound.

This is a big book and at 900 pages long it can look intimidating. It is anything but. It is a rollicking good read, the action never stops and although at times it can be complex, the short chapters pull you along and keep the pages turning.

The denouement, I thought, was very clever and not your usual 8 page shoot out between good guy and bad guy. All in all I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a fast­paced, action­packed novel.

This is a copy of a review I did as a guest reviewer on shazsbookboudoir.blogspot.co.uk

The Piano Player’s Son

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The Piano Player’s Son
by
Lyndsay Stanberry-Flynn

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I am really pleased to be able to do this review as part of Lyndsay Stanberry-Flynn’s Blog Tour.

The Piano Player’s Son is Lyndsay’s second novel and is published by Cinnamon press.

This is a book detailing the breakdown of a family after a bereavement. The two sisters and two brothers are brought together with their mother at the family home in North London after the death of the father. On the night of the bereavement the mother imparts a secret to her daughter, Isabel, who is then herself sworn to secrecy, something that eats away at her. The lies and betrayal that emanate from the secret produce a cocktail of jealousy, resentment and pain that culminates in a shocking denouement.

The characters are full of complexity and depth. They are flawed and thus very real. At times you want to give them a big hug, but at other times you want to wring their necks.
Isabel is the recipient of the secret, she finds that it weighs very heavily on her. She is also suffering personally, with her marriage over and unable to move forward.
Rick is the most complex character. He can be intensely unlikeable, with his materialism and demands on his family. Yet he obviously adores his wife and daughters. Most of his emotions are driven by not being able to prove himself to his father when he was younger.
Grace lives in Italy and cannot get back home in time to see her father. This strains relations between herself and her sister. Grace’s home life is also fraught as her Italian husband, Franco, wants a baby and she does not.
George is the youngest and lives in Penzance. The other siblings have their view point heard whilst George doesn’t. Nevertheless he is at the heart of the story.

The action takes place in four different locations: London, Italy, Northumberland and Penzance. The author is excellent at giving a strong sense of each place.

This is such a good read. The pages turn faster than an autumn leaf blowing in the wind. There are also some big shocks in here that I didn’t see coming at all. I would highly recommend this book, if I didn’t know who had written it I could have mistaken it for Anne Tyler and I can give it no higher commendation than that.
****1/2