Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker annoyed me, but I kept reading. And then it would annoy me more, but I had to know - Who did kill Nola? And when the author finally tied up his mess, I was still annoyed.  This was an international bestseller and my friend Trish bought it based on a booklist rave rating. Later, my Entertainment Weekly magazine listed it as one their bottom five – called it Euro-Pop trash.  So, here’s a quick blurb – read  the book at your own risk. You could love it or be annoyed.  

The book starts out actually quite well. The buildup and characters are interesting. It’s August 1975 and a girl is glimpsed fleeing through the Somerset, NH woods. Nola Kellergan, a fifteen year old lovely young lady – the pastor’s daughter, isn’t seen again until thirty-three years later when her skeleton is dug up on the grounds of Harry Quebert. This cold case turns into  quite a hullaballoo.  

Marcus Goldman, a young successful writer, needs another hit. Faced with writers’ block, he comes to visit his old mentor, Harry Quebert, and ends up launching his own investigation and cinching a three million dollar book deal. Following a trail of clues, he finds that the citizens of Somerset are hiding a lot of secrets. Was there abuse in the pastor’s home? Was Chief Pratt involved? Travis Dawn is sweet on the daughter of the owner of the local diner, who back in the day yearned to have Harry fall for her. Elijah Stern, the richest man in Somerset, has a painting of a naked Nola. How? And why?  

So from the cover blurb – what did happen one misty morning in Somerset, the summer of 1975? And how do you write a book to save someone’s life?  Harry Quebert is vilified and a sad man still mourning a lost love. In flashbacks, we meet Harry as he first becomes the town celebrity – the famous New York writer. Then we see his current day struggles. We get words of wisdom he dispensed to Marcus through the years – “You must give meaning to your life. Two things can make life meaningful: books and love.” 

The first half of the book  is intriguing and decently written. The second half of the book seems rushed. The author throws us red herring after red herring until we are sick of seafood. What should have been a page turner was easily put down. And yet – you seek the truth – you want to know The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.  Who killed Nola?  Really?  Seriously? 

Now that’s annoying.


  1. I have been reading several NY Times bestsellers recently and most of them I couldn't even finish they were both badly written and the story line wasn't good either. It's amazing what makes the list.

  2. Sorry you had such a frustrating experience.Sometimes when a book was on the bestseller list, I would start to wonder if there was something wrong with me for not liking it, and kept reading it anyway. That all ended with 50 Shades of Grey. I gave up on it after the first chapter. For different reasons, I found that book quite "annoying." Despite everything, you still wrote a fun review, Joanne!


  3. I love that line "...until you are sick of seafood" You should use that in a book ;)

    1. thanks. I try to go for a chuckle no matter what

  4. Hmm, well, I don't like being annoyed so I will probably pass this one by. Thanks for the heads up!