TOO MANY RED HERRINGS?
I recently read Joel Dicker’s “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” – picked it up from the sale shelves at Barnes & Noble. On the back cover, it is touted as “The great thriller that everyone has been waiting for since the Millennium Trilogy of Stieg Larsson. I certainly wouldn’t go that far as Larsson set the bar pretty high in my humble opinion, but it was definitely an entertaining read. One concern: I discovered that it’s possible to have too many red herrings (defined as "a false trail," or the likely villain turning out to not be the guilty party) for my tastes. First the story leads one to this villain, then it leads to that villain—and 27 villains later (or so it felt) we discover the true villain. It was exhausting! Nevertheless, the device of having a character writing a book within this book helped drive the story along, as layer after layer of the mystery onion got peeled away. In brief, a writer who is experiencing writer’s block after penning a highly successful book, seeks advice from his mentor, the great author Harry Quebert, who wrote his own bestseller…only to uncover a murder mystery that has the mentor in the spotlight as the likely perp. He’s a 34-year-old professor; the murder victim is a 15-year-old girl with whom he was in love. Some sticky business, with very slowly unraveling backstories. Don’t pursue this story, Harry tells Marcus Goldman—fearful that it will ruin Marcus’ opinion of him. Well, I think it’s okay to pursue this story, so if you can find a copy of the book, especially at your local library, give it a whirl. And please let me know if your reaction to all the red herrings was similar to mine.