The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

Original Title: La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert.
Series: Marcus Goldman #1.
Writer(s): Joël Dicker.
Publisher: Éditions de Fallois.
Format: Mass Market Paperback.
Release Date: May 17th, 2014.
Pages: 863.
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller.
ISBN13: 9782877068635.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


There are secrets that can destroy lives in unimaginable ways. They are often kept close to our hearts, sealed away, and charged with negative emotions, from pain to hate, difficult to carry within us but accomplished out of necessity. While their revelation to the world is inconceivable for one’s own sanity, it might also be the most cathartic experience they’d ever need in their life, allowing them to expel their suffering and embrace an opportunity for forgiveness, contentment, and redemption. What follows, however, will depend on the individual’s own perception of life, their attachment to its hidden potential, and even their ability to perceive the beauty that it holds within. Written by Joël Dicker, this novel, the first of a trilogy, yet a stand-alone story, winner of the 2012 Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française and the 2012 Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, explores a village’s dark secrets following one little girl’s tragic disappearance.

What is The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair about? In New York, in spring 2008, the young and incredibly successful writer Marcus Goldman finds himself tormented in the midst of the presidential elections in the United States: he is confronted with a terrifying case of writer’s block. With an imminent deadline from his editor, he turns to his mentor, a friend and retired teacher, who once also knew unfathomable success for his own novel, he visits him in New Hampshire to stay over at his place, hoping to find inspiration. Not too long after his arrival, a shocking discovery is unraveled to the world as the remains of a young girl of the age of 15 are found and Harry Quebert is accused of her murder. Compelled by a desire to help exonerate his friend by uncovering the truth. It is this investigation that will lead him to write his next bestseller.

“Un bon livre, Marcus, est un livre que l’on regrette d’avoir terminé.”

— Joël Dicker

Unquestionably mesmerizing, stylistically simple, and continuously escalating, this is one mystery novel that never stopped answerings questions with new questions. It restlessly pulls the reader deeper into the narrative, into a village’s dark secrets kept hidden from the public eye, until this new discovery of tragic remains draws the whole world’s attention upon a restricted and mysterious motley of characters and their own sinister pasts. Interspersed with life lessons and a glimpse of the writing process through exchanges between the young Marcus Goldman and his mentor Harry Quebert, earlier in their lives and careers, the story evolves rapidly and always leaves you guessing about the murderer’s identity with each flip of the page. While at first, the characters seem innocent and sympathetic, their secrets, once unveiled, leave the reader confused by the numerous investigative paths they could take to try and guess the ultimate murderer.

At the heart of this narrative, the quintessence of the tragedy that stirs the hornet’s nest, is a story of love, from parental to forbidden love. The latter takes a more ample and pivotal role in the story as it creates a divisive and ethical clash among the characters. While an intriguing exploration of social norms and expectations is done parallelly through the characters, especially their action and discourse, one can still be appalled by the subject matter of this mystery novel⁠—which in itself does not make it mandatory for the author to tackle the issue in any philosophical way⁠—spares the reader of a thought-provoking reflection as it ends on an almost trivialization of the characters in question and the matter of forbidden love. The additional layer of book market drama was also a bit uninspiring, mostly distracting whenever the story temporarily explores various facets of the industry. However, these niggles do not tarnish the addictive and fast-paced mystery thriller that keeps you guessing until the very last page.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a riveting pulse-pounding page-turner unveiling the tragedy around a little girl’s disappearance and the detrimental vices and crimes of humanity in the name of love.



17 thoughts on “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

  1. This work and author are completely new to me. Did you pick this up on vacation? And did you read it in French, or was it translated? Very glad to see you enjoyed it, even with what might be difficult subject matter. I’ve sometimes found books I thoroughly enjoyed while absolutely despising some of what occurs within their pages. It’s interesting when stories can do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nop. I started this before my trip and finished it a day before it too. And yes, I read it in French (original language). It has been on my TBR for a while now, ever since my girlfriend saw the TV mini-series adaptation and recommended the book to just about everyone in her family. I thought it was about time I gave it a shot myself and am now glad that I did. And yes, you’re right. When authors play around with difficult subjects like this, it allows us to juggle and perceive it differently, with some distance, and enjoy the process while being critical about it. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a mystery thriller!


  2. Some time ago Sky aired the miniseries inspired by this book, but given my total dislike for the actor in the main role I did not watch it. Now that I learned that the book is such a good one, I can give this story another chance… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So in tune with today’s social ails, emotional distress and abductions. My kind of read with hope that there is light at the end of every dark tunnel.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s not often that I have actually read a book that you’re reviewing so it is my duty to leave a comment too ahah! That was a great review and I completely agree with you! I’m very curious to see the mini-series now, because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as fast as I did for this one!

    Liked by 1 person

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