2014 Books in Translation Chunkster Crime Uncategorized

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair Translated from the French by Sam Taylor

Five words from the blurb: American, disappearance, mystery, writer, love

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is an intricately plotted murder mystery set in New England. It begins with Harry Quebert, a famous author, being arrested for the murder of a 15-year-old girl who went missing thirty years ago. Marcus Goldman, an old friend who was mentored by him at college, is convinced that Harry is innocent and rushes to his side. He sets out to investigate the truth behind the crime; discovering a host of secrets buried in the small coastal town.

Joël Dicker is a Swiss author, but it is impossible to know this from reading the novel. He’s somehow managed to produce a novel that feels authentically American. The characters are all well drawn and all hide secrets from their past. It is like the literary equivalent of Broadchurch (a fantastic British crime drama that I highly recommend) in that almost all the characters have a motive for the murder, but the clever plot keeps you guessing right until the end.

The pacing and structure of the book was perfect, with new information and plot twists added regularly. The way everything came together at the end was especially good and I found myself marveling at the construction of it all. I also loved the meta aspects of the novel. Some of the sections reminded me of the wonderful HHhH, although I’m not sure if the similarities were simply due to the fact both novels have the same translator.

The book was long, but it never dragged and I loved the way I felt as though I knew a wide-range of characters by the end. The reader occasionally has to suspend their disbelief and there were a few cliches sprinkled throughout, but I was willing to forgive these as I was so engrossed in the plot. 

This isn’t great literature, but it is a fantastic piece of story-telling. I recommend this book if you’re after an entertaining diversion that will keep you guessing for hours.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

Joël Dicker succeeds in pulling off one of the best literary deceptions in years. Pretty Sinister Books

…the sort of magnificently awful book to sharpen hatchets over while idly eyeing up your kitchen knives. Domestic Sluttery

 It’s 656 pages of pure readable summertime bliss. 3G1B

6 replies on “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker”

I would say that the translator had a lot to do with the way the novel is transposed into English, seeing as how translators do, effectively, re-write books. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I couldn’t warm to HHhH when I read it.

Wow, I’m surprised to hear you liked this book. For me, I experienced such an intense disappointment that I could not even review it. I simply didn’t want to take any more time on a book that was drawn out beyond belief, completely unAmerican though it pretends to be, and ultimately, trite.

That’s just my take on it, though.

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