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.