Joël Dicker: La Vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert (The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair)


The latest addition to my website is Joël Dicker‘s La Vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert (The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair). I hesitated about reading this novel as, though it got some good reviews and won the Goncourt Prix des lycéens, it also got some poor reviews. Some reviewers thought it brilliantly combined the detective novel and the literary novel Others thought it merely a poorly written detective novel. As it has been translated into several languages and is coming out in English in May, I decided to overcome my reluctance. However, having read it, I am inclined to the second opinion. It is not very well written (though certainly not badly written) and while it is quite an enjoyable detective novel it is not literary fiction. It tells the story of a successful writer who has an affair with a fifteen-year old girl. She disappears without trace and though he is initially suspected, there is no evidence to tie him to the disappearance. Thirty-three years later, her bones are found buried in his garden, together with a bag containing the manuscript of his book. He is arrested and charged with abduction and murder. The narrator, one of his former students and now himself a successful novelist, comes up to New Hampshire to investigate and help clear his mentor’s name. In a week when Dame Helen Mirren has added her name criticisng the continuing flow of brutal murders of women in TV dramas, this book is clearly not going to be on her reading list. If you enjoy detective novels with a few good twist, it may well be on your reading list and, no doubt, it will get a certain amount of publicity when it comes out in English in May but there are better novels, even better Swiss novels to put on your reading list.

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