Joel Dicker

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

Readers of a certain vintage will remember, Twin Peaks, directed by David Lynch, which rewrote the template for a crime series on television, in the same vein that The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, revolutionised the crime novel.

If you haven’t heard of The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, you will be unaware that this weighty tome – 600 pages – sold over two million copies in its first year, and the rights to translate it into 32 languages have been sold to 45 countries.

Unlike books in the past which struck a chord on a global scale, The Bridges of Madison County, The Da Vinci Code, both of which were, admittedly, psychobabble rubbish, The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, does have quantifiable literary flair, and manages, whilst adding news records to stretching credulity, to hold your attention span up until page 615.

Ultimately, if you are going to sacrifice the many hours required to complete this tome, it had better be a good yarn, and it is. What is astonishing is that a story set in small town Americana – imagine Peyton Place meets In Cold Blood – in 1975, a seminal year in American culture (All The Presidents Men, Jaws, The Eagles’ One of These Nights), is conceived and executed by a Swiss-born, French writing novelist.

Translator Sam Taylor captures perfectly the dialect of the citizens of the small town of Somerset in New Hampshire, awoken from their slumber by the discovery of the body of a teenager, Nola Kellergan decades after her disappearance in the garden of a celebrated writer.

If that isn’t bad enough for the wimpish and apparently erudite Harry Quebert, her skeletal remains, a stone’s throw from his kitchen window, is clutching the manuscript of a novel central to his overnight fame. So far, so good, though not for Harry who is arrested and flung into the slammer.

To the rescue comes Marcus Goldman, an affable protégé of Querbert, who is convinced of his master’s innocence, and while busy as a bee looking for clues, discovers enough circumstantial evidence to point the finger at half a dozen pillars of Somerset society.

If you loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, then you will be smitten by The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America, as Nola becomes known once Goldman’s investigation is transmuted into a book that takes on a life of its own. Gripping, but clear your evening schedule for a week.

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