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The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, and Sam Taylor

As seen:

By Joel Dicker, and and, Sam Taylor

avg rating

1 review

A crime story. A love story. A worldwide phenomenon. More than 2 million copies sold


08 Apr 2016


Harmans Water Library Reviews of
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

How to write a Group review? To eradicate writer’s block, take guidance from Marcus, who in turn took guidance from Harry, who took guidance from Ernie Pinkas…

An intriguing book from the start with the descending order of chapters and illustrations.

Does it say more about me or the book that being aware that Joël Dicker is Swiss rather than an American author, made me take longer to believe that the America that Marcus describes was the America as felt by Americans? Initially, I felt it was in a Twin Peaks/ Desperate Housewives world but then gradually believed this was the USA and the protagonist was American.

The mystery is a good one, albeit unsavoury – obviously that goes with the territory of a murder mystery. This book is full of anti-heroes. In the pervading climate of British celebrity trials, Harry is a fallen hero, whose relationship with Nola perhaps evokes seediness, rather than a grand love affair. Is this a cultural difference from the author’s perspective and my attitude? The comparison to ‘Lolita’ is perhaps too easy and must be one that the author recognises (professor infatuated with a minor).

Amazing how both Marcus and Harry wanted to create an heroic identity to do with fame. We learn early on how Marcus the Magnificent is just a myth, then it unravels that even inspirational Harry’s early successes are built on sand. The more we find out about Nola, the more complex she becomes. I feel this rings true in that we are all mult-faceted entities.

Sam’s Taylor’s translation flows along greatly and I forget his voice is Joel’s (I believe this is Marcus relaying the story; another nice layer: the translator impersonates the author, who writes as the fictional author, who at times writes as a fictional author). although I’m wondering, however if the title ‘Marcus the Magnificent’ sounds too French. Would ‘Magnificent Marcus’ or ‘Magic Marcus’ seem more American?

Joël Dicker’s Swiss roots don’t fail to pick up the class and racial prejudices that may have still pervaded in 1970s America. Tamara is grotesque and real at the same time in her attitude to what religion he may be and what colour he is not. Her wish for her daughter to be married to a famous writer and parade them in the ill-feted garden party conjures up a character who would fit into a Willy Lomax 1950s America. Despite this, her interactions with her husband, Robert are both touching and comic. These passages certainly added to the novel’s richness and perhaps are needed in a book this long.

The descriptions of the places in New England are well drawn and can imagine do and did exist. Maybe including Martha’s Vineyard had nothing to do with Jaws being filmed there and premiering in the United States in 1975 but it was a nice reference point, even if unintentional.

The novel is at times brutal, as well as brash and abhorrent. The scenes in the Kellergans’ home are sickening and ones I find not wanting to imagine. Here again, we see people pretending to be something else: the outward face of respectability and the turmoil within. I suppose a murder-mystery leaves no prisoners.

The plot-lines, character development and complexities and seamless shifting of time, place, narrator and sub-plots make for a compelling read and one worthy of 600 plus pages.


I have started the book and I am finding it intriguing and entertaining - I certainly want to know who killed Nola!
If I were to mark it out of 10 I would give it 8+. Although the book is long, I am still looking forward to knowing the full story.

What a novel! The constant switchback between the dates was phenomenal. I really can’t add anything extra as the novel lived up to the superlatives on the spine. Yes, long and in the middle, did dip into ‘Mills & Boon’ territory but I soon became engrossed again. True too, that by the end of the book the switchbacks were more staccato and difficult to follow; though this may have been to reflect the states of mind of Marcus and Harry at those points. The novel lived up to the hype and was above and beyond expectations. A truly remarkable book.

(Member of Harmans Water Library Book Group)

I am enjoying this book, despite having difficulty reading standard print. I find it intriguing and greatly admire the attention to detail. I do find the various names difficult to remember and have to go back over some of the passages to remind myself who the characters are. They have a strange way of talking to each other but I do find these passages of conversation quite interesting. It is an intriguing story and despite being only two thirds into it, is one book I am looking forward to finish for all the right reasons.

(Margaret, Member of Harmans Water Library Book Group)

Not quite finished the book but am enjoying it. However I'm finding it rather long and am waiting for some sort of twist to bring it to an end. Probably only give it 6/10 due to its length.

(Sheila, Member of Harmans Water Library Book Group)

Wow, what a multitude of characters and twist turns. The intricate structure of the book, coupled with its length and snappy dialogue episodes and time shifts meant I had no time to analyse who actually was the main villain. Even if you did stop to list the suspects, some characters would seem so despicable and mean that you’d discount them as being red herrings. However, by Part Three, you would learn that many of the seemingly ‘good guys’ had something to hide.

Melodramatic in situation and characters: Luther Caleb came out as a spoof Bond henchman in the early part of the book; I wasn’t completely convinced by his lisp or his limp. Gahalowood seemed Chandleresque; equally Harry’s 31 lessons to Marcus at the beginning of each chapter could have come out of American film noir of the Forties. Stern echoed a Citizen Kane character in his wealth and remoteness from Somerset. Tamara, Robert and Marcus’s mother were also larger than life characters. However, this helped to make the book enjoyable. By the end you believed and were enveloped in this quiet coastal location and its host of dysfunctional characters when you dug beneath the surface (if you’ll excuse the pun).

(Member of Harmans Water Library Book Group)

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