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The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

(Marcus Goldman #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  134,315 ratings  ·  13,566 reviews
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, cinematic literary thriller, and an ingenious book within a book, by a dazzling young writer.

August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods, never to be heard from again; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

Thirty-three years later, Ma
Paperback, 643 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Penguin Books (first published September 19th 2012)
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 ·  134,315 ratings  ·  13,566 reviews

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Jun 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
La Vérité sur la verité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert

"Reading bestsellers is like boxing, Marcus. They can both cause brain damage."


"But wait," said Gahalowood. "I still don't understand. Why is the book so badly written? Why is the writing so atrocious that every other sentence causes the reader physical pain, why is the dialogue so flat, and why are none of the characters even remotely credible?"

I sighed. "You see," I said, "that's exactly the point. The book is
Jim Fonseca
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an unusual book and a great mystery/detective story. It’s unusual in that it’s set in New England and you would never know that it was translated from the French. The Swiss author used to spend his summers in Maine.

The story is Lolita-ish. Thirty-three years ago a college English professor/famous author from New Hampshire fell in love with a 15-year old girl. But unlike Humbert, Nabakov’s predator, this author genuinely tried to block his emotions – discouraging the girl from visiting hi
Tommy Wallach
Aug 01, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is, without a doubt, the worst thing I've read in many years. The fact that it was published at all boggles the mind. Honestly...I want my money back. Christ but it's terrible. Joel Dicker should never publish another novel again. Or write anything. Even a grocery list. Or speak. He should go live in a monastery in the woods and never bother anyone again. Dear lord. Make it stop. ...more
'How do you know when a book is finished?'
'Books are like life Marcus. They never really end...'

I just loved this book. Grand story and writing, unique in many ways, a calm but formidable buildup of the story which makes you want to keep going steady but with a building tension thinking all the time... 'what's going on here', great whodunit with unbelievable twists and turns til the last pages, remarkable set of characters, great setting... I just really enjoyed it from start to end.

And it's no
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel reinforces for me why I love big books so much:

(1) They cover a lot of territory without feeling rushed or cramped.
(2) They leave room for many different sub-plots to add spice and enhancement to the main plot.
(3) Their expansiveness, when utilized properly, allows the reader to live thoroughly the experiences in the book, sharing space with the characters, and getting to know them.

In this novel, I was completely occupied with being surprised, shocked, and moved by the characters; som
Jun 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Yeah, I have no idea why this is supposed to be so amazing. The plot itself is kind of uninspiring and reminds me of so many "dark secrets in a small town" stories that Stig Larssen popularized. And really, it's trying to be The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (just minus the secret Nazis) so badly it's kind of laughable.

The characters were universally unlikable - and honestly the jet-set life of the best-selling author kind of made me laugh my ass off. Maybe I missed when Jonathan Franzen was being
Andrew Smith
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it
There’s essentially three stories here:

- Two men’s individual struggle to write a book
- An older man’s love for a 15 year old girl
- The mystery surrounding the murder of the 15 year old girl

Yes, they’re all linked – but it sometimes feels like a hodgepodge of styles: maybe Jonathan Franzen meets Mills and Boon, meets Agatha Christie?

It’s long: over 600 pages in print and in excess of 20 hours of audio. I went the latter route, and was rewarded by a competent reading by Robert Slade. It’s also s
Jul 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Spectacularly terrible! It's absolutely mind boggling to me that this was a runaway success and prize winner in France. From the very first pages you can tell that the dialogue is atrocious and the story cliched almost to the point of offensiveness, and it certainly doesn't get any better as the book unfolds. What on earth do people see in this book? It's not possible that it is *that* much better in the original French, right? ...more
Nancy Martira
Jul 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
I believe this is the worst book I've ever read; granted, I don't read a lot of bad books. If a book is terrible or if I'm just not enjoying it, I don't finish it - life is too short. So, why did I stick with it for nearly 600 pages? It's a mystery!

Mysteries that are more mysterious than the "mystery" at the heart of this book:

Is this a terrible novel or just a terrible English translation?

How did this become an international bestseller? No, really. Europe alone produces tons of excellent crime
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always had a weakness for mystery books. In this story every character matters, every subplot is related, and Joel Dicker creates one of the best modern dark novels. It is more than just a Who killed Nola Kellergan? and yet, that is the question that will travel with you through all the pages. A novel that will swallow you completely. A story about sickness, love, sadness, books and hidden pasts. A victory for the writer. Well done Dicker.

«Todo el mundo sabe escribir, pero no todo el mun
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
I said it before and I'll say it again, or write it again, whatever, but this book is about 150 to 200 pages too long. It's too long, but my biggest issue with it isn't the ridiculously unnecessary length, it's the way the story is contrived and the way the characters interact that bugged me the most.

Is Dicker trying to write a modern version of Lolita? Is he going for a new spin on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Is he trying to write a sprawling murder mystery or is he trying to write a new l
Arybo ✨
🇬🇧 «Fly, you fools!»

Short comment:

an intriguing beginning, second fourth indigestible, third fourth unbearable, last fourth half unbearable, half acceptable. Characters stupid, egocentric, superficial, unbearable. Unacceptable romance, insubstantial literary story, mystery that resumes in the final. A great flop.

Longer comment (possible spoilers):
Each chapter begins with a "advice" that the famous Harry Quebert gives to his pupil Marcus during his life. Each advice occupies one page. Wa
Luca Ambrosino
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ENGLISH (The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair) / ITALIANO

"Somerset Police. What’s your emergency?"
"Hello? My name is Deborah Cooper. I live on Side Creek Lane. I think I’ve just seen a man running after a girl in the woods."
The present: a promising novelist, Marcus Goldman, deals with his first writer's block. The past: a promising novelist, Harry Quebert, deals with a forbidden love with a 15-year-old girl named Nola. The crux of the matter: past and present are intertwined with the mysteri
Naim Frewat
I have mixed feelings about this book. The fact that it won the "Prix de l'Académie Francaise" 2012 tips the scales towards disappointment. Then again if I was not intrigued by a crime book that won the said prize, I probably wouldn't have even picked it up.

It is a 660+ pages crime book; that made me quite hesitant to consider it, I just assume there would be unnecessary details and characters and boring repetitiveness. I was wrong about the first two.

The book's back cover states that it is a "r
MANNY: Hello and welcome back to our continuing coverage of Let's Trash Joël Dicker Week. With me in the studio, I have three experts who are going to offer us their diverse viewpoints on Dicker's controversial bestseller La Verité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert. I'm happy to introduce Manny and Manny--

MANNY: Good afternoon.

MANNY: Delighted to be here.

MANNY: --and, last but not least, Manny's girlfriend, who is going to try to introduce a note of sanity to the proceedings.

MANNY: I'm sorry, Not coul
Diane S ☔
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I feel like I have been on a long journey, and this book was a journey, through red herrings, changing accounts from many different people, through a poignant friendship and an illicit love. It was a puzzle, or a labyrinth or a maze, trying to find just the right clue that would unravel everything that had come before.

A book that is a book, about a murder, a young girl that seems to be all purity and light and a famous writer. Writer's and writers block, the 31 things one needs to know to write
Irena BookDustMagic
Not gonna lie, finishing this book feels like an achievement.

Full review to come.
Stephen Durrant
Joel Dicker is a 27-year-old Swiss writer whose "La Vérité sur L'Affaire Harry Quebert" has recently won two prestigious literary prizes and become a bestseller here in France. Its success, I think, results from being a complex and engrossing piece of detective fiction, involving novelists no less, and being set in America, where, according to the book jacket, Dicker has traveled extensively. The story concerns the discovery of the body of a fifteen-year old girl who disappeared thirty years ear ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's few books out there that grab you from the first page and keep you there to the last page. There's even fewer books that actually make you feel like you're on a journey. It's a long book but I wish it was longer. I'm missing the characters already. This book has everything, it's a thriller, it has humour, sadness, character development, love, lies and deception. I want more!! ...more
Ruth Merriam
Jul 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
Can you give a book zero stars? I guess not. I picked this book up because it sounded like an interesting story (in the style of Steig Larson...not) and had been considered for a few literary prizes in France ( have the French gone crazy?). So I started to read. Until about page 200, I kept thinking that it would get better. Then I realized it must be a Master Class in how not to write. This book had it all, poor plot development, inconsistencies, unrealistic dialog, foreshadowing that would hav ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

This book, translated from the original French, is a complex mystery in which a famous sixty-something author named Harry Quebert is accused of murder. The murder charge turns out to be a golden opportunity for Harry's protégé, a 28-year-old writer named Marcus Goldman.

Marcus is a one-hit wonder who's under contract to deliver a second book SOON! Unfortunately Marcus has severe writer's block and can't manage to type a single word.....until he hits on the idea of proving that Harry is
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In spite of all the prizes it won, and its ambition to be something more, this book is just a simple mystery novel with only a single good plot twist and a teen-ish and retorical writing.
The story of the young writer investigating the murder of young Nola and her ties to "America's greatest writer" Harry Quebert is more a parade of cliched uninteresting characters - none excluded - and banal phrases than a look into America's society, and it becomes involuntarily ridiculous when we reach excerpt
Aug 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Not good at all. Writing style is just terrible -- way too simplistic. Characters transparent, psychology not well developed.
Jun 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-reads
3.5 Stars

I had great difficulty in rating and reviewing this book as I would hate to discourage anyone from reading it and yet some people just wont like it and therefore I think you really have to decide for yourself if you want to really find out The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair.

This was a book club read and I am not a great lover of thrillers and especially ones that are over 600 pages long.
I started this book and to be honest I was caught up immediately in the plot and found myse
The truth about Joel Dicker

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert

I've now read 40 pages of this ludicrously long book. I've been reading it in French. These are the truths.

(1) Assuming that it should have been published in the first place, it is nonetheless perhaps hundreds of pages too long. Every single notion is repeated ad nauseum. There is not one idea stated once that isn't repeated a dozen times. In a row. Just like that. The book should be much shor
Jun 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
I'm not sure where to begin in writing a review of this book. The advanced praise for "The Truth About ..." from other countries remains quite high and, indeed, this book took home 3 literary prizes in France. So, I took a chance on it. Well, that certainly turned out to be quite the mistake of 640 long, drawn out and often very poorly written pages. The author, Joel Dicker, was born in Switzerland, but spent summers in New England, so he should at least know something about Americans and their ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it
At over 600 pages The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair is a commitment, a huge one for me, a slow reader. Was it worth my time in the end? Yes and no. To be fair let me give you my good before the bad. I have a friend who often uses The Good, The Bad, The Ugly in his comments. I'll skip The Ugly...

The Good
I liked Joel Dicker's passages about writers and writing and even readers. This is what saved the book for me rising it from 2 stars to 3. I loved the relationship between Harry, the teach
Jul 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Be wary of over-hyped reviews, especially those littered with hyperboles.

They too sucked me in, like the cockroach I tried to gently euthanise by means of my kitchen sink.

I should of learnt my lesson.

This book is 50 shades of blah suffering from a serious case of 'lost in translation'.

Where do I begin?

Over hyped. Over promised. Under delivered.

Characters so one dimensional and mono-sibyllic they would feel right at home in a third grade reader.

Let's take a look at Harry Quebert for a moment. Th
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was an unfortunate waste of my time. The premise was interesting and the book has won prizes and (inexplicably) garnered mainly favorable critical reviews, which was why I started reading it. The characters, however, are such blatant stereotypes (The Jewish Mother! The Small-town Harpy! The Bad-tempered Policeman! The Money-grubbing Publisher!) that I really didn't care what happened to any of them. And however much time Dicker spent in America while growing up, it obviously wasn't enough-- ...more
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Joël Dicker was born in 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland, where he studied law. He spent childhood summers in New England, particularly in Stonington and Bar Harbor, Maine. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair won three French literary prizes, including the Grand Prix du Roman from the Académie Française, and was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt. Dicker lives in Geneva.

Other books in the series

Marcus Goldman (3 books)
  • Le Livre des Baltimore (Marcus Goldman, #2)
  • L'Affaire Alaska Sanders

Articles featuring this book

Twists, turns, and whodunits. We pride ourselves on recommending some great mysteries and thrillers here at the Goodreads office. So, we decided...
123 likes · 63 comments
“Un bon livre, Marcus, est un livre que l’on regrette d’avoir terminé.” 112 likes
“Marcus, ¿sabe cuál es el único modo de medir cuánto se ama a alguien?
-Perdiendo a esa persona”
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