The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair – Joël Dikker

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The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair – Joël Dikker

Post by Graham on Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:22 am

Another half-pound of best-selling tripe, please. My excuse is I bought it at the same time as The Broken, the star quote on the cover this time being by Simon Mayo. Why did I buy a book recommended by someone named after a salad dressing?

Read it and enjoy all the subtle charm of being run over by a bus. It was translated from the French by Sam Taylor so he and Dikker may share the blame, and the prizes apparently (perhaps it is better in French). It is set in Somerset, New Hampshire, the protagonist’s French surname unexplained but perhaps indicating that inspiration deserted the author at the outset. Quebert, ’the famous writer’, is arrested following the discovery of human remains in his garden. The skeleton belongs to Nola Kellargan, a local 15-year-old who disappeared thirty-five years earlier and with whom Quebert had an illicit affair. His protégé, Marcus, ‘the magnificent’ Goldman is convinced of his innocence and starts his own investigation. The local police accept Goldman’s interference with grumpy humour and invite him to participate in interviews. Really? All that is missing is Gitanes hanging from their mouths.

The writing is flat and uninspiring, the characters boring and unappealing and almost nothing anyone says or does is realistic. I got a third of the way in and despite it being Sunday and having nothing else to read, I was too bored to continue. Skipping past huge chunks of Dikker’s ludicrous ideas of rural American behaviour I gleaned the rest of the story. In its defence there is a plot. Goldman uncovers succeeding layers of evidence pointing at every upright citizen of Somerset in turn. If this is your thing then I suggest starting around page 400. Up till then it has more padding than a pregnant walrus. You can also safely omit the pretentious little homilies that start each chapter.

Graham
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