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The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, May 27, 2014
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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
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
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Top Customer Reviews
I completely agree with the Amazon reviewer who complained that no thirty year old acts like Harry Quebert and that he acts more like fifteen, the age of his female love interest, In fact NO ONE acts like Harry Quebert or like the policeman who enlists the help of the protagonist to help him solve the murder of Harry's girl friend. Seriously??? A policeman takes a twenty-six year old novelist as his partner and shares the whole case with him??
This was really a dreadful book. I can't understand the glowing reviews. I tried to take it as a spoof on crime books and it didn't work that way either. I would definitely give this one a pass. The only reason I gave it two stars is because I thought the beginning was promising, otherwise the last two thirds were a one star. Also I thought the basic plot, with different character development, could have been good in the hands of a competent writer with a competent editor. That just didn't happen here.
Harry Quebert was Marcus Goldman's professor who encouraged his writing talent and they developed a close friendship that continued long after school.
In 1975 a 15 year old schoolgirl disappeared. The investigation at the time drew a blank until, 30 years later her remains were discovered in the garden of Harry's home. Harry tells Marcus that he was in love with her and that his best novel told their love story. Suspicion falls on Harry and he is imprisoned and on death row. But Marcus is determined to clear Harry's name and begins his investigation into the mystery. There are several possibilities and the book takes several surprising twists and turns. Although the book has received many accolades, there are also reviewers on Amazon with whom I agree – “amateurish writing, dreadful prose, badly written with ridiculous characters and cringe worthy dialogue.”
The book has two main characters: the narrator and his mentor Harry Quebert. I didn't find either of them particularly sympathetic or even realistic. The loss of Harry Quebert's "soul mate", the murdered Nola, is very sad of course, but returning to his grief over and over becomes, at least for me, tedious. Nola herself is very sketchy, and is the subject of all sorts of changes, doubts and psychological revisions
Perhaps it is the translation, but I found the dialogue naive and unconvincing, the writing "advice" usually superficial, and the sexual references basically self-conscious, ambiguous (especially with respect to Harry and Nola), definitely unexciting, and actually quite old-fashioned.
The frequent plot twists ("red herrings" mentioned above) are clever at first, but after a while I simply ignored any hints the author offered since it was clear they were not to be trusted, since new information was almost certainly to be introduced rendering them "inoperative".
Nevertheless, the book is a pretty good summertime distraction, which is, after all, why I purchased it (Kindle edition). I don't think it will become a classic.