Book review: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – I love France #111


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The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

I won this book on Books And Reviews.
The book was mailed to me
by Viking/Penguin Press

I was in no way compensated
for this post as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
Joel Dicker
Translated form the French
by Sam Taylor


Publisher: Penguin Press
Release Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN:  978-0143126683
Pages: 656

Thriller / Literary Fiction 

Source: Received
from the publisher
through Books And Reviews


Buy the Book


This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

         New author challenge   my-kind-of-mystery-2014   


new eiffel 5

Here is finally my review about this awesome novel. I will try my best to convey my enthusiasm about it.
The main plot seems simple enough: Nola, 15, disappears one day from a small place,
Somerset, New Hampshire. The famous writer Harry Quebert seems to be involved. His student and friend Marcus Goldman decides to lead his own investigation to try to clear his friend’s name. Nothing too exciting if you stop here. But there’s so much more to The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.

The novel/thriller is at the same time a reflection on the art of writing, based on the advice received by Marcus from Harry, his mentor. So for instance, each chapter begins with a short advice on how to write, as Marcus just faced a major writer block after his first successful novel.

Connected with that, the structure of the book is super well done and original: you basically go backwards in time:

  1. Part One: Writer’s Disease (Eight Months Before the Book’s Publication) – it starts with chapter 31 and goes down to chapter 15
  2. Part Two: Writer’s Cure (Writing The Book) – from chapter 14 to 6
  3. Part Three: Writer’s Heaven (The Book’s Publication) – from chapter 5 to 1
  4. The Epilogue is about One Year After the Book’s Publication

The plot itself thickens as we go along, and the characters, particularly Nola’s, become much more complex than at first look. There’s so much more involved that you first thought.There are many colorful characters, so well developed.

What I really enjoyed is how the writer starts by building up the case, then de-constructing the plot, and then trying to rebuild it up by proposing along all possible scenarios and culprits. Basically everyone involved could be considered the culprit. The novelist manages to convince you so well for each until he slowly reveals you the truth with amazing revelations, which is not anything you could have guessed, I think. This is really an incredible construction.

And it is all along a book within a book, but I won’t tell you more about these connections, you will have to experience them by yourself.

I totally disagree with critics and reviewers who compared this book to Lolita. First there is no explicit sex in this book, and Harry’s relation to Nola is not what you think it could be. The book is also ultimately about love, friendship, guilt and failures, and how to restart from scratch.

VERDICT: Very well rendered in English, this highly original novel will satisfy lovers of both thrillers and literary fiction. Dicker managed to mix both genres in a tour de force you will not easily forget.


 The #1 internationally bestselling thriller, and ingenious book within a book, about the disappearance of a 15-year-old New Hampshire girl and, 30 years later, a young American writer’s determination to clear his mentor’s name—and find the inspiration for his next bestseller.

August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods before she disappears; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of America’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan—whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a successful and true novel?

A global phenomenon, with sales approaching a million copies in France alone and rights sold in more than thirty countries, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book, by a dazzling young writer. [Goodreads]


Joel DickerJoël Dicker is a Swiss novelist, born on June 16th 1985.
He is from Geneva, a French-speaking city in western Switzerland.
He attended Geneva schools, and the University of Geneva law school.
He received his Masters of Law from the University of Geneva in 2010.

From an early age, Joël has had a passion for writing.  At age ten, Joël founded La Gazette des Animaux (Animals’ Gazette), a magazine about nature that he directed for seven years. At age 20 he made his first attempts as a fiction writer.  His short story, Le Tigre, was honored in 2005 by PIJA (International Prize for Young French-speaking Authors). At age 24, he wrote Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères (The Final Days of our Fathers), a novel that tells the true but little-known story of the SOE, an underground branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service.  In 2010, Joël won the Prix des Ecrivains Genevois (Geneva Writers’ Prize), a prize for unpublished manuscripts, for Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères.  After winning this prestigious prize, Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères was pubished in 2012.

During the two years between writing Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères and its publication, Joël was working on a new and more comtemporary novel.  He studied all the critiques he had received for Les Derniers Jours de Nos Pères and worked on his style.  As for North America, he knows it well: as a child he spent every summer vacation in New England.  After two years of hard work, he finished this book in May 2012.  La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert is 670 pages long. It has been translated into over 30 languages and is being published in over 45 countries. [from his website]






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11 thoughts on “Book review: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – I love France #111

  1. Pingback: New Author Reading Challenge 2014 | Words And Peace

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  4. I am really glad you liked the novel. And as for the translation, I tried to read the bookin Spanish and it was awful, so I decided to give the English version a try and it was much better. Thank you again for entering the contest, it means the world when I give away books and people love them.


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