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July 24, 2014 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

HarryQuebertThe Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair
by Joël Dicker
Narrated by Pierce Cravens

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publish Date: May 2014
Format: Audio Download | 18 hours
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate – Difficult
Rating: 4½ of 5

From the Publisher:

The #1 internationally bestselling thriller, and ingenious book within a book, about the disappearance of a 15-year-old New Hampshire girl and, thirty years later, a young American writer’s determination to clear his mentor’s name—and find the inspiration for his next bestseller.

My Thoughts:

In 1975, fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan disappears. Thirty years later, her body is found buried in famous novelist Harry Quebert’s garden. While he admits he had an illicit affair with the young girl, he denies having anything to do with her death, and claims he has been waiting all these years for her to return. Marcus Goldman, a protégé of Harry’s who is currently suffering from writer’s block and badly in need of inspiration, is determined to solve the mystery of who killed Nola and clear his mentor’s name.

This is a very clever story about two books: The book Marcus is currently writing about Harry and the ongoing murder investigation, and a fictional best-seller Harry wrote 30 years ago that was a thinly disguised version of his secret affair with Nola.

Interestingly, the original novel was written in French by a Swiss author, but is set in the US – in a small town in New Hampshire. While there are a few awkward sentences and odd word choices from the translation, it was not disruptive to the flow of the story. There are lots of short sentences and some choppiness, but it reads fine, like a ‘bestseller’.

The plot is at times convoluted, there are lots of twists and turns, many characters, and an occasionally unreliable narrator, but in the end, a satisfying conclusion. The style of this novel is a little different than what I usually think of in a mystery, but nonetheless, I enjoyed it a lot. Despite the complexity, I had no trouble following the story, which was a concern when I decided to listen to the audiobook.

Audio Production:

The narration was performed by Pierce Cravens. This was my first experience with his narration and I was happy with his performance. With a large cast of characters to keep track of, he was able to create enough variation in voice and tone to keep me alert to changes in who was speaking.

While I found the listening level to be of average difficulty, I rated it intermediate to difficult because of the complexity. I wouldn’t recommend this as a choice for new listeners. Experienced listeners should be able to keep the books, plots and characters clear with a little extra attention.

I listened to much of this book while gardening and trimming hedges. Since gardening is second nature to me, I could devote my full attention to the story. This is the type of book that works well if one can listen in large chunks of time rather than short intervals.

Source: Review copy provided by Penguin Audio.
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Leave a Comment
  1. acuriousgal / Jul 24 2014 12:05 pm

    I have never listened to an audiobook, but feel it would get me through some of those books I’m finding no time to read.


  2. Suko / Jul 24 2014 12:39 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed listening to this mystery, Leslie.


  3. BermudaOnion / Jul 24 2014 1:38 pm

    This book has gotten some terrific buzz. I have it in print which will probably suit me better.


  4. Mary / Jul 24 2014 8:14 pm

    I’m thinking print is the way to go for me 🙂 Sound pretty good!


  5. WordsAndPeace / Jul 25 2014 11:25 pm

    glad you enjoyed it, I have been really annoyed by harsh critics of this book. I read it, not listened, I think the structure, pot and writing are superb. I need to finally write my review too!


    • Leslie / Jul 26 2014 11:42 am

      I noticed all the nasty reviews too. I was wondering if they read the same book I did. Even though it was translated into English, it still flowed well. Not a literary masterpiece, but I don’t think was the intent – just a fun book. Perhaps those critics were offended by the topic of the story itself and the idea of an affair with an underage girl? Maybe.


      • WordsAndPeace / Jul 26 2014 12:01 pm

        Though nothing was really explicit, I totally disagree with the parallels with Lolita I read so many times.


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