Joël Dicker

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

"..Dicker handles the complexity of the plot brilliantly..."


Two novelists: master and pupil and the unexplained disappearance of a young beautiful girl in a small town in America. This very young girl has been the great love of Harry Quebert, the older novelist, and the inspiration for his great masterpiece. Thirty-three years later the discovery of her body along with the manuscript of that book, and Harry's subsequent arrest, provides Marcus Goldman, Harry's gifted protégé, with the excuse to visit the small town where Harry lives and even live in his house. Marcus is suffering from an extreme case of writer's block and is being pressurised by his publisher to deliver the next big blockbuster.

Once in the sleepy New Hampshire town of Somerset, Marcus sets about finding out what really happened and clearing the name of his mentor. What he finds there is that under the surface of this small town there are secrets and hidden passions that totally surprise him. Gradually he makes friends and allies and discovers that no-one is as they seem on the surface, not even Harry and his beautiful girlfriend, Nola.

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This is a huge read in the pattern of the great American novel. The only thing is that this is not written by an American but a talented Swiss writer. It has at its heart a love story but the intertwining passions and relationships soon take over to make it a touching and sad record of human frailty. It is also a crime story but again not a simple whodunit. Many people have a guilty secret in Somerset. Some of those secrets relate to the murder. Joel Dicker handles the complexity of the plot brilliantly and he understands the nature of human behaviour and weaves that into the story. His main character of Marcus Goldberg is strange and not entirely likeable but intriguing and tantalisingly described. I'm not entirely convinced by the massive advances he is promised for an unwritten book but that is not important to the main thrust of the novel. I am impressed that the atmosphere of small town America is so sympathetically and authentically portrayed. This is a very original and imaginative piece of work that I thoroughly enjoyed. It may be a mighty tome but well worth the effort.

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