Tuesday, 30 October 2018

JOEL DICKER - THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR (2014)


Synopsis/blurb.....

A crime story. A love story. More than 2 million copies sold worldwide.

And now a major 10-part MGM TV series starring Patrick Dempsey and Ben Schnetzer. 

August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence. 

That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with 15-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that made him a household name. Quebert is the only suspect. 

Marcus Goldman - Quebert's most gifted protege - throws off his writer's block to clear his mentor's name. Solving the case and penning a new best seller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of 'The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America'. 

But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

I've had this one on the pile for a few years now - a Net Galley ARC from 2014 and a paperback copy I picked up cheap in the meantime. I think it would probably have stayed there a lot longer if I hadn't gotten wind of a ten part TV series currently airing.

It's a bit of a door stopper at over 600 pages, but I soon found myself sucked into the story and the events of Nola Kellergan's love affair with novelist Harry Quebert over thirty years ago, culminating in her disappearance and the recent discovery of her body on Quebert's property.

Plenty going on throughout as the story meanders back and forth through the timeline of 1975 and the build up to Nola going missing and 2008 when the body is uncovered, Quebert is arrested and friend Marcus Goldman tries to investigate to prove his innocence.

1975 .......an innocent, unfulfilled love affair or a sordid inappropriate relationship between a 15 year old girl and a 30-something man?, small town jealousies, a writer's life, a book to write, a difficult home life, complicated relationships, a mysterious past, secrets, poisonous letters, spying, a rich benefactor, a troubled, damaged chauffeur, feelings of guilt and a desire to make amends, a weak cop, a love-struck cop, a manipulating mother, a hen-pecked husband, a small town pastor.

All have their stories to tell and their memories to relate with the exception of those no longer with us.

2008 ...... friendship, jail time, an investigation, another book to be written, and a search for the truth.

Very complex, very enjoyable. I had several guesses at the truth to the disappearance - now murder - of Nola, one of which was spot on though the rest obviously weren't. There's a couple of other eye-opening revelations which I didn't see coming. One particular strand to a central character's behaviour I didn't quite buy into. It seemed a little bit convenient and not totally convincing, though it did explain a lot.

An interesting dissection of small town life when something goes horribly wrong. An interesting look at a writers' life. And a moral question posed - regarding the relationship which was at the centre of the book - how did I feel about Nola and Harry and their love? Judgmentally - not too comfortable with it. Not something I would want for my two girls.

It's hard to do justice to this complicated book. Enjoyable, entertaining, interesting, long, a few plot twists and turns, some skillful manipulation of the reader which had you liking a character one minute, and loathing them the next and vice versa.

Definitely an author I would read again in the future, which for me is a benchmark of whether something has worked out well for me or not.

Recommended reading - or conversely just watch the TV adaptation which after 8 out of 10 episodes is proving fairly faithful.

4 from 5

Dicker's second book The Baltimore Boys sits on the pile, though my son has pinched it at the minute.

Read in October, 2018
Published - 2014
Page count - 640
Source - owned copy plus a Net Galley review copy
Format - paperback



9 comments:

  1. I have to admit, Col, that I'm hesitating because of the book's length. And I know for certain I wouldn't want that sort of relationship for my daughter. But the story does sound interesting, and sometimes, those stories about stories can be effective. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

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    1. Margot, the length did put me off initially but it was quite enjoyable once I got into it. I'm glad I read it, there were a lot of positives to be had with the story.

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  2. I'm more than curious about this book, Col. I like the premise as well as Marcus Goldman investigating the case to clear his friend's name, and then writing a book (about the case, I presume). I will, of course, seek out a paper edition; 640 pages of an ebook would be too much for me.

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    1. Prashant, I'd be keen to see what you make of it if you ever read it. I was glad to have the paperback, as long e-books don't work for me.

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  3. Wow that is a very long book. Which is the same thing I thought about it when I first heard of it. Maybe someday, since it appealed to you.

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    1. The length put me off initially, but I thought I could read it over a couple of months in conjunction with watching the TV series, which is pretty much what I did until I reached a point where I had to keep reading.

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