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 fifteen-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 made him a household name. 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 bestseller 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.
I first heard about this book on the Simon Mayo Radio 2 book club well over a year ago, and it’s taking me that long to get a copy and actually read it!
The blurb gives us a pretty good snapshot into the plot but what you don’t get is that it’s a novel about a writer (Dicker) writing a novel about a writer (Goldman) writing a novel about a writer (Quebert) – it’s like one of those magic mirror images where your reflection goes on forever…anyway crack on enough rambling.
I liked that at the start of each chapter were these sort of tutorials, words of wisdom and recommendations from Harry to Marcus on how to write the next bit, how to hold the reader’s interest etc; this, I found quite fascinating, as a reader that would have no idea where to start writing a book, it’s like being privy to some secret information. But what you also get from this is the relationship between the ‘master’ and his student which at times is touching.
The novel has a different approach in that the chapters count down from 30 to 1, in essence to build tension and make the reader aware that there’s not much longer to the big reveal (well that’s how I read it anyhow).
Kudos to Dicker in that in that he created a character that I should have been appalled by, yet I never felt Harry’s relationship with Nola was inappropriate or wrong yet it absolutely was, but when I was reading I was totally sympathetic towards their relationship rather than horrified.
Overall, I loved this book, I enjoyed all the small town 70s stereotypical characterisations, the small town secrets, great setting with more twists than a big twisty thing and one scene which actually made me gasp!
It’s a lengthy novel of around 600 odd pages but I never felt that it dragged and I highly recommend if you love a murder mystery that wasn’t solved the first time around. Looking forward to seeing who’ll be cast in this movie!
p.s The author Joël Dicker is exactly as I pictured Marcus Goldman.
Connect with the author Joël Dicker