I heard about this book on Radio 2 when DJ Steve Wright was talking about it/plugging it on his show and being a huge crime thriller/mystery fan I immediately put it on my list of books I want to read. I am aware the original version is in French and this book has won prizes and is critically acclaimed but all that aside my review is based on what I thought of the book when I read it.
To quote the book, “It’s a story of a man who loved a young woman. She had so many dreams for them. She wanted them to live together, for him to become a great writer and a college professor, she wanted them to have a dog the color of the sun. But one day the young woman disappeared. She was never found. The man went back to the house to wait for her. He became a great writer, he became a college professor, and he had a dog the color of the sun. He did everything she had ever asked him to do, and he waited for her. He never loved anyone else. He waited faithfully for her return. But she never returned.”
Marcus Goldman is a young writer who has a successful first book but then suffers horribly with writers block when he tries to write his second book. He turns to his friend and mentor Harry Quebert and goes to stay with him to gain inspiration and a cure for his writers block. He doesn’t achieve either but the discovery of the remains of local girl Nola Kellergan on Harry Quebert’s property leads to Harry’s arrest for her abduction and murder. Marcus comes to his friends defence and investigates what happened 33 years ago.
I found this complex thriller unputdownable, unpredictable and well written. The sheer frustration of a blank page Marcus experienced was palpable. There are many threads to this mystery and they are all tantalisingly tied up in huge twists and turns the plot takes to reach it’s final conclusion. I was impressed that the book did not seem to lose any allure from being translated from French to English and the plot and characters were very well developed.
I thought the contrasting attitudes of parents in the mid-70s to the current taboo of a 15 year old girl hanging around a man in his 30s was very well written. There are some convoluted characters giving rise to complex situations in the book that at times I wondered just how the story was going to conclude.
Some aspects of the mystery you can see coming but Dicker gives you a hell of a ride with the ones you won’t see coming in this complex thriller. This is the first book I have read by Joel Dicker translated by Sam Taylor and I was not disappointed and hope to read more mysteries from Dicker in future.