I don’t believe I’ve ever read 650 pages so quickly. I finished this one over the course of about two and a half days. And regardless of its story or plot, every writer-in-training will love the cryptic Mr. Miyagi-like kernels of advice that begin each chapter.
The book is mainly told from the point-of-view of Marcus Goldman, a wunderkind novelist who is struggling to meet the deadline for his second book. In an attempt to dodge the fans and hangers-on, Marcus calls his old professor and mentor, Harry Quebert. Harry still lives in his seaside home in rural New Hampshire and teaches English at a nearby college. It seems nothing has change for Harry since Marcus graduated from the institution. That all changes when gardeners discover the body of Nola Kellergan, who disappeared 33 years ago, buried on Harry’s property. Immediately, he is suspected of the crime and it will be up to Marcus to unravel what happened more than three decades earlier.
Not only is Marcus forced to reconsider the mentor he admired, he must also grapple with his own editor and agent, who want genius to strike twice. Afraid he won’t be able to live up to his own reputation, Marcus delves headlong into investigating Nola’s disappearance himself. In the process, he realizes each person in the small ocean side town knows a little more than they’ve let on.
“I’m not going to leave this town until I’ve understood what happened thirty-three years ago.”
“You’re unbelievable! You’re as stubborn as a mule, just like Harry!”
“I take that as a compliment.”
“All right, what can I do for you?”
“I’d like to have a talk with you. We could go for a walk outside, if you like.”
She left Clark’s in the hands of one of her employees, and we went down to the marina. We sat on a bench, facing the sea, and I looked at this woman who, according to my calculations, must be fifty-seven years. Life had left its mark on her. Her body was too thin, her face lines, her eyes sunken. I tried to imagine her the way Harry had described her to me: a pretty young blonde with a voluptuous body, a prom queen during her high school years. ~Pg. 150-1
Each citizen unlocks a small piece of the puzzle, and poses yet another question, another loose end for Marcus to tie up.
While the details are obviously different, the idea is rather like the popular BBC show Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman. It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a town to make a child disappear.
This is sure to the be the paperback in every beach bag and carry-on this summer.
Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (May 27, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.4 inches