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Sex, Murder, Mystery...The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair



I recently finished The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, a murder mystery set in the fictional town of Somerset, New Hampshire. I am not usually a fan of murder mysteries, but I managed to finish Joel Dicker's 600 plus pages in three days. If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is. An international bestseller, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair seems to have garnered more acclaim in Europe than America; winning multiple awards in France, while being described as "disappointingly pedestrian" by Heller Mcalpin of NPR's Book Review. I will concede that The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is not great literature, but that does not make it any less entertaining or enjoyable. Matisse once said that art should be like "a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."  The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair provides this relaxation. It is a good book for the beach or for those suffering from sleep deprivation, such as after the birth of a new baby.

In 1975, the beautiful and charming, fifteen year old, Nola Kellergan goes missing. With no body or definitive evidence ever found, the case remains unsolved. Thirty three years later, her body is found on the property of Harry Quebert, a famous writer and popular university professor. To make matter's worse, Nola's body is found buried with a copy of Harry's award winning book, The Origin of Evil. Harry, who would have been thirty-four in 1975, admits to having a relationship with the fifteen year old Nola, but denies having played a role in her murder. Convicted in the court of public opinion, Harry's innocence looks dubious at first. He is quickly arrested and held in jail without bail.

In steps Marcus Goldman, the book's narrator and Harry's former student, who is himself a writer. In an attempt to clear his mentor's name, Marcus begins to investigate Nola's disappearance and write a book to exonerate Harry. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is Marcus' book. As the reader advances further into the book within a book, the suspects pile up and the truth becomes murkier and murkier. The origins of evil no longer seem quite as clear as they did at the beginning, but this is what keeps the book entertaining. As Harry Quebert advises, "a good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry has ended" (Dicker 637).  I, for one, am sorry I have finished The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.

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