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The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 27, 2014

922 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: A successful young author suffering from writer’s block journeys to New Hampshire to visit his former professor. Shortly after he arrives, the bones of a girl are found buried in the professor’s backyard. Now the professor has been arrested for the murder of the girl--who disappeared in 1975 at the age of fifteen--and the author has an idea: he will write a book based on the case that will ultimately exonerate his professor and jumpstart his writing. Already a massive best seller in Europe (and translated into 32 languages), The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair arrives in North America amid such wild praise you might expect something groundbreaking. Instead, what you get is a wonderful, fun, and boisterous read, a book with an uncanny ability to both fascinate and amuse you. Twists and turns and oddball characters make this a rollicking bullet-train of a novel. --Chris Schluep

From Booklist

This best-selling, award-winning, French literary thriller from a 28-year-old Swiss author has arrived in the U.S. with fanfare not heard since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So what is all the fuss about? That’s puzzling. Jumping back and forth in time from 1975 to 2008, the novel is narrated by Marcus Goldman, a twentysomething writer whose first book was a smashing success but who is suffering from writer’s block at the prospect of penning a follow-up. He travels to rural New Hampshire to visit his former professor and mentor, Harry Quebert, whose first novel was also a best-seller and brought him instant celebrity. But in the midst of the reunion, the body of a 15-year-old girl is discovered on Quebert’s property and Quebert is arrested for murder. Goldman sets out to prove his mentor innocent, and in the process he writes his long-delayed second book, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, which becomes even more successful than his first. With a plethora of suspects, readers are certain to be caught up in the drama—by the the time the book ends, nearly every major character in the story has taken a turn as the likely killer. Beyond the whodunit aspect, however, readers may find themselves shaking their heads at the almost cartoonish characterizations and soap-operatic dialogue. The real mystery here is why we keep reading—but, for some reason, we do. --Bill Ott

Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143126687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143126683
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (922 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have just two problems with this book: (1) the ludicrous and lurid plot, and (2) the stunningly amateurish writing. It was painful, but I read every bit of the book, mostly because I just couldn't believe this could be the same book that has been such a huge best-seller abroad. I figured it had to transform itself into something great, but if anything, it just got worse with each passing page.

I'll keep the plot summary brief, since you can read that just about anywhere. The protagonist, Marcus Goldman, is a young writer who hit it big with his first novel and is now hopelessly blocked. Under tremendous pressure from his agent and rapacious publisher, he flees to the seaside town of Somerset, New Hampshire, to get help from his college mentor, the literary lion Harry Quebert.

Shortly after Marcus's visit, Harry is arrested for the murder of a teenage girl, Nola Kellergan, who had disappeared over 30 years earlier and whose body has just been found buried under Harry's lawn, along with the original manuscript of Harry's most famous novel, The Origin of Evil. Marcus decides he must investigate to clear Harry, and submits to his publisher's pressure to write a book about what is being called the Harry Quebert Affair.

First of all, it's downright creepy that the then 34-year-old Harry had a love affair with a 15-year-old girl. And he's not the only grown man in town to have a thing for Nola. We have to read a lot about these age-inappropriate passions, but at least there is a little comedy value in that reading, with deathless prose like this:

"As soon as he saw her, he felt his heart explode. He missed her so much. As soon as she saw him, she felt her heart explode. She had to speak to him.
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91 of 105 people found the following review helpful By alienorhuman on June 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition

Spare yourselves; do not buy this book. It was almost physically painful to finish. If this is the yardstick by which we measure books these days, I'll just lock myself into past centuries and NEVER COME OUT. What on earth caused this book to receive such acclaim???

So, just to get it out of the way, the construction kind of stands, although I'd have to think about even that. It's a little grotesquely baroque, with everyone seemingly having had a hand in the murder that 'fateful day', but ok for now.

But the rest.... In no particular order, and with plenty of spoilers, probably - it's not as if I care

- writers are NOT interesting main characters, and this one in particular takes the cherry; self-absorbed, vain, narcissistic, with every suddenly sycophantic character telling him how wonderful, talented, smart, 'Magnificent' (sic!!!) he is - and that goes for the OTHER writer in the book, Harry Québert, whose 15-year old lover seemed to have been put on this earth only to fawn over, praise and massage his ego. The main character 'wants to be a writer more than anything else in the world' and there is much inane talk/Hallmark life lessons about writing.... Ok, but writing what??? What was his 'fabulous first book' all about anyway?? He reminds me of kids who want to be rock star for the fame and never think for a second about the music - It's all about the packaging with Marcus Goldman - oh and let's not forget the crowds of New Yorkers who mob him with questions - actors, maybe, even though New Yorkers are WAY TOO COOL to crowd celebrities thank you very much - but WRITERS?? How many would you even recognize???
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By K. on June 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
I cannot believe this book is an International Best Seller. It is horrible. The writing style is so simplistic and elementary, I am wondering if the beauty of the original language was lost in the English translation? Because what we are left with has zero finesse. The plot is ridiculously overblown with too many ostentatious twists and turns. So many times I found myself thinking, "now, that's just stupid." This author does not know how to end a book - just when you thought it should be wrapping up some other ridiculous element of surprise was tossed in. Large tomes do not scare me; however, this book was at least 300 pages too long. The story could have been told (better) in a much smaller space. I completely lost interest in this book's meandering path around page 450 and had to force myself to finish only because I had already invested too much time.

I can't think of anything good to say about this book. My biggest complaint is that the characterizations did not remain true. There are several examples of this, but let me just use the one that bothered me the most - that of the disfigured Luther Caleb. When we first hear his story, we learn that he was a talented, bright, promising, handsome young man destined for good things before the accident that destroyed his face. However, for much of the book, Luther behaves like someone who is also inflicted with a mental/learning disability rather than just a physical deformity and speech impediment. This man was not supposed to have any cognitive issues - however he sure seemed like it by his thought process and interactions with others. Luther is only one example but you will find similar flaws and limitations with nearly every character.
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