An Unexpected Surprise

HarryQuebertVaughn Hardacker here: The one of the negatives of living up here in the COUNTY is the lack of bookstores. It has been a couple of years since Mr. Paperback closed both of its county stores, leaving us with Walmart (a limited selection at best), several supermarket displays (even more limited), and several small used bookstores. Being a book-junkie I’m always prowling, looking for a good read.

I was visiting the Caribou Dollar Tree when I noticed that they have a small display of books, hardcover and paperback, and they are all priced $1.00 (Granted some of the offerings aren’t worth much more). I saw THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR by Joel Dicker (an author whom I heretofore had no knowledge) and figured for a buck, why not? I read the fly and learned that the book was a thriller with an author as its protagonist, which immediately caught my interest. The plot line is simple. Marcus Goldman, a young writer, published his first book which became a phenomenal best seller. Obviously, his publisher is anxiously awaiting his next book. So, you might ask what’s the problem? Marcus has a terrible case of writer’s block–or so he thinks. In reality he is scared to death that after his successful first novel his second will be nowhere close to being as good or successful. His solution is to leave New York City and spend some time with his old professor and mentor, Harry Quebert (pronounced Quee-bear) in a small New Hampshire coastal town. While visiting the body of a fifteen year old girl, who has been missing for thirty-three years, is discovered on Harry’s property. Harry is arrested and charged with her murder. The protagonist decides that the best way to save his mentor is to do his own investigation and write a book that will exonerate Harry. What follows is a page turning novel with more twists than a pretzel.

So, I imagine that at this time you’re asking what’s so unusual about this book? Not only is the book an international best-selling thriller, but the author (Joel Dicker, a young Swiss writer) includes a number of lagniappes, written as writing lessons that Harry gave to Marcus Goldman, that are a writing course in itself. When was the last time you read a book that was not only attention holding, but educational at the same time? And I got it for a buck!

A final note: A friend of mine returned from a trip to Scotland and England and handed me a book that he bought in Heathrow Airport. “You got to read this,” he said, “It’s terrific.” The price on the book was £6.99 or $10.82. I turned to my bookcase and handed him a copy of the very same book: THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR. I said, “Caribou Dollar Tree, for a dollar.”

My assessment of the book: Well above average. As a youth, the author, although a Swiss national, spent his summers in Stonington and Bar Harbor, Maine. His geography of the New Hampshire coast is pure fiction, but it seems to work. The book was originally published in France and was translated by Sam Taylor. The irony of the situation is this: Like his protagonist, Marcus Goldman, what will Joel Dicker do to follow up? 

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8 Responses to An Unexpected Surprise

  1. What an enlightening review of Joel Dickers novel! I’ve just placed a hold on the recorded version at the library in the next town and will pick it up this afternoon. I’m hoping that Harry’s advice to Marcus will help unblock my own difficulty with the plotting of my next story!

  2. Isn’t it wonderful when you bump into a great book like this? I hope you send Joel Dicker a link to this blog post, so he’ll know this tale of how you found his book and why he suddenly will have a bunch of Maine fans.

  3. MCWriTers says:

    Sounds great! I’ll look for it … Lea

  4. JT Nichols says:

    So, why is he visiting the body of a 15 year old girl? Sorry couldn’t help myself…

  5. Patricia says:

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll check it out!

  6. What an incredible story, Vaughn! I’ll be looking for this book. I didn’t find him on Facebook, but he is on Twitter @JoelDicker. Unless you read French, you’ll have to use the translation button next to each individual tweet, but it’s always a good idea to support your fellow authors wherever they are online.

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