August 30, 1975: the day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence. That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with 15-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that secured his lasting fame. Quebert is the only suspect.
Marcus Goldman - Quebert's most gifted protégé - throws off his writer's block to clear his mentor's name. Solving the case and penning a new best seller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America. But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.
©2012 Editions de Fallois / L'Âge d'Homme (P)2014 WF Howes Ltd
"A spellbinding literary thriller... It is maddeningly, deliciously impossible to guess the truth" (The Time)
"The cleverest, creepiest book you'll read this year ... Twin Peaks meets Atonement meets In Cold Blood" (Daily Telegraph)
"A tour de force, this seems set to be a huge success" (Metro)
"Quietly compulsive...with a deliciously shocking twist" (Daily Express)
"Big, assertive and clever... hard to resist" (Independent on Sunday)
"Like Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy [it] combines literariness with compulsive readability" (GQ)
"Enough plot twists to fill a truck" (The Economist)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
The characters were well written and, considering the original book was written in French, the translation was excellent and the narrator superb.
It was a fascinating and long story (around 18 hours) with many twists and turns along the way.
An excellent first novel and deserving of the many plaudits it has already received.
I look forward to many more novels from this author.
I suppose it's all a question of taste but I really liked this book. I laughed a bit and was completely sure I knew who did it........until I found out I was completely wrong, I liked most of the characters ( have to say thought Harry was a little unpleasant) and stayed up way passed my bed time to listen to the end. In my experience there are 3 types of audio book 1. Book you only get half way through and give up on it, 2. Book you finish but never return to and 3. Book you listen to again and again, returning to it like an old friend. This book, for me, is definitely type 3.
Yes. It would be interesting to see what this Swiss writer does with contemporary and/or American culture. Also, this novel has been such a massive hit, that I'd like to know what the author has already written or goes on to write.
Detective Perry Gahalowood
Disappointment, after a very long read.
“It’s complicated, Marcus.” And it is! Until this literary detective novel runs out of suspects, the plotting is expertly handled, while the telling of the story through rapid and multiple time-shifts over a period of thirty-plus years is very clever, indeed.
It is a literary detective story in two senses. First, threaded into the story of the murders, thirty-plus years earlier, of fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan and an elderly female neighbour is an effort by the new literary star, Marcus Goldman, to cure his own writer’s block by writing up his and Detective Perry Gahalowood’s investigation into the Harry Quebert affair, that is, the arrest of Quebert for the two murders. Second, the investigation becomes a search for the meaning of a literary masterpiece, specifically a novel enigmatically entitled “The Origin of Evil”, published by Goldman’s mentor, Harry Quebert. A version of the novel is found with Nola Kellergan’s corpse when it is discovered three decades later, buried in Harry’s garden. The description “masterpiece” is bandied around and finally attached by Quebert to Goldman’s “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair”, as the student takes over from his master. These complexities of time-periods and texts are at least set primarily in one town, Somerset, New Hampshire, full of small-town characters and rivalries, with some episodes in New York City and locations in between. Also interwoven into the investigation and giving it a time-scale of deadlines and writerly pressures, is a sharp satire of the publishing industry, as Marcus’ appalling publisher determined to publish Goldman’s book before the Obama election monopolises book-sales.
For all the literary dressing, “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” is best appreciated as a detective story in the classic sense, but given a European fascination with diners, automobiles and small-town protocols. It has, mostly, a closed location, red herrings (more than in any detective story I have read), astute plotting and skilful narrative switches, but also stereotypical “flat” characters, some of whom are quite embarrassing. There are no insights into what literary greatness might be, and certainly not in the quotations from the supposed masterpiece, “The Origin of Evil” or in the book we are reading, unless the translation is weak. Indeed, these excursions into literary appreciation are very stilted.
One definition of a literary classic is that many readers re-read it and find different insights, rather than being confirmed in their values or judgements. I might re-read “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” but only to work out what happened in Somerset, New Hampshire, on August 30th, 1975, because I’m still not sure I quite got it, assuming that there is much to get.
This book took quite a while to get going, but it certainly re-pays the effort of staying with it, as it becomes gripping towards the end, with it's many twists and turns. Not so much an unreliable narrator, but rather unreliable witnesses informing him. Your relationship towards the characters is constantly shifting towards the end.
Very well read, an audio book very often stands or falls by the narrator. This one, though slow at the start kept my interest by virtue of the narrator's investment in the characters.
This was vastly disappointing. I'm not going to go in too deep about the storylines which are readily available in the summary.
What I want to say is
a) this book is a structural failure. A guy writes about himself, his past and how he came to write the book about "the affair". This he does partially in retrospect, partially in first-person narrative in the present, but, and this is done really badly, partially from the view of other characters. Clearly we have a protagonist in this story, but every so often he doesn't tell the story anymore, but someone else. In another setting this might be nice to follow, but this is a murder investigation, so it doesn't make ANY SENSE (sorry for shouting!) to give insights to third person's thoughts if they are not communicated to the investigator. How do they reach him?
It is so thoroughly illogical that it made me want to scream.
Our hero drives around town, visits someone in prison, switches on a tape-recorder, someone else begins to talk and suddenly the story switches to yet another person, recounting events from 30 years ago in the present tense. Then, suddenly, we are back in the skin of the author who continues his investigation.
To clarify: this is a book about the production of said book, told from multiple angles and multiple periods in time. I guess the author wanted to be very crafty, but the threads of the story become convoluted, misleading, hard to tell apart (who's talking now? Waitress? Author? Cop?) and most of all: tedious.
b) this book is stylistically bad: Endless annoying dialogues end without any conclusion, solution or explanation why the reader/listener had to suffer through them.
c) the story itself is sordid. If it isn't, it has become so with the narrator. It is supposed to be about an affair between a 15-year old girl, oh so sweet, oh so lovely, and a 34-year old jaded and self-centered writer. They aren't likable. The girl is whiney, childlike in her demeanor and, ha-ha, her name is Nola. (not Lolita, no, Nola) The author tells himself repeatedly that he really shouldn't be with a 15-year old girl, but he loves her! He wants her! And so he lies to her! Repeatedly! To make her adore him even more!
Enough already. I have given the matter some thought: If the author of the book wanted to write a love-story gone awry, he failed. Nola is no Lolita, she clearly is still a child (or at least rendered one by Robert Slade) and so the affair was, in my eyes, absolutely inappropriate. Disgustingly so. I have no patience whatsoever with the sympathetic depiction of, let's face it, chronophilia.
d) Robert Slade has succeeded in depicting all characters as nasty creatures. I didn't like ANY of them. They were, with his voice and modulation, annoying, whining, hard to distinguish personas that I wasn't invested in at all.
Of the clever ending, well ok, I'll credit the author with some ingenuity, but the hours before that were hard to digest.
Really enjoyed, great storytelling with a meaty story, great characters and lots of guessing. Made a nice change to rely on story and people rather than gore like the Scandinavian murder mysteries of late. Narration was good too.
The story is gripping and multi layered. Its somewhat too long however that doesn't matter when the story sucks you in with twist after turn after twist. you think you know but you dont!
HAVEN'T SEEN THE PRINT VERSION BUT DO NOT SEE HOW IT COULD BE BETTER THAN THE AUDIO VERSION.
MEASURED AND TOTALLY IN "VOICE" FOR ALL OF THE CHARACTERS - AND THERE WERE MANY!
IF I COULD STAY AWAKE FOR 30 HOURS YES!!! IT WAS UTTERLY GRIPPING.
THERE WERE SO MANY TWISTS AND TURNS IN THE PLOT .... IT KEPT ME GUESSING RIGHT UNTIL THE END! WOULD DEFINITELY RECOMMEND.
I loved the book. I found it difficult to put down. the narrator did a good job too. Remember this " the destiny is invincible, it always triumphs at the end... "
This is very good with many twists and turns. Well written and very well read.
Good long story to consume you. Well recommended.
"That s what I call bad writing"
Bad, bad, really bad!!
Sometimes it just hurts to keep on reading. The worst of all, the parts with the mother of the character.
"No bestseller in my opinion"
No. I'm half way and sit it out but never again.
I'm hoping it will get better but up till now it is a drag. Over sentimental and nothing really happens.
Not too bad but there are better narrators.
My husband read it and told me about it. So I got interested, also because it was a nr one on the bestsellers list here in Holland. But I'm disappointed. I'm afraid it was a waist of time, so far. I still hope it will get better, but I'm afraid it won't.
"A beautifully crafted crime-thriller!"
I thought that the narrator, Robert Slade, did a great job of the characters, giving them life and nuance.
My favourite character was Galloway, a gruff detective who hates Goldman at the start but deep down is looking for justice
The scene where Galloway befriends the narrator.
A small town can only have so many secrets.
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