A few weeks ago I went to Canberra for a conference. While I was there I stopped in at the Paperchain Bookshop in Manuka. Manuka is lovely, full of cafes selling on-trend smashed avocado and extreme milkshakes. Paperchain fits in well among them, and as always, I sought relief in there after a couple days of information overload at the conference.
What is it about bookshops that have such a calming influence? A part of me wonders why I don’t get overwhelmed by all those books I haven’t read yet (so many books, so little time!), but instead the sight of all those possible reads lined up to greet me just makes me sigh with happiness. Hopefully I don’t sound crazy writing this; there must be others who get such joy out of fresh new books, right? Right?
Anyway, I spent a little time browsing and picked up a copy of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. I thought about reading this when it was released here in 2014, but I didn’t have such a penchant for slow-burning, psychological crime back then (I’m still not quite sure why I’ve developed such an interest lately). I know many, many people enjoyed it though and I will quite happily get right on the bandwagon.
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a multi-layered tale about Marcus Goldman, a young author whose fame reached epic heights when he released his first book. He is now trying to write his second, and suffering horribly from that cursed disease, writer’s block. The pressure and expectation is getting to him, to say the least. When his old-friend and mentor Harry Quebert is arrested for the murder of a 15 year old girl who had disappeared more than 30 years earlier, he sets out to Harry’s town – Somerset, New England – in search of answers. He begins to write, recording interviews with the towns-people, retracing the events of the night, and clue by tiny clue, the story slowly unfurls.
The book was certainly entertaining, although it was hard to like Marcus – he seemed so arrogant that much head-shaking and eye-rolling on my part ensued, and Harry Quebert wasn’t much better! I’m also always a little bit amazed when it is so easy for a character to follow the police force around and write about it in real-time. It seems unlikely to me (and a bit of an easy device to keep the plot moving), but I could be wrong. Maybe there are thousands of police out there with wannabe writers hanging onto their every word?
Despite this, Harry Quebert was a great novel. I wanted to know what happened, and I was turning the pages late into the night to find out how all the pieces fit together. It’s an easy, utterly readable book that deserves its success.