The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair –

This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof Copyrightby Joel DickerJesus, Marc, have you heard Heard what My God, turn on the T V Its about Harry Quebert Its Quebert I put on the news To my amazement I saw the house at Goose Cove on the screen and heard the presenter say It was here, in his home in Somerset, New Hampshire, that author Harry Quebert was arrested today after police discovered human remains on his property Initial inquiries suggest this may be the body of Nola Kellergan, a local girl who at the age of fifteen disappeared from her house in Augustand has never been seen since The room began spinning around me, and I collapsed onto the couch in a daze I couldnt hear anything clearly anynot the TV, nor Douglas, at the other end of the line, bellowing, Marcus Are you there Hello He killed a girl Quebert killed a girl In my head, everything blurred together like a bad dreamSo it was that I found out, at the same time as a stupefied America, what had happened a few hours earlier That morning a landscaping company had arrived at Goose Cove, at Harrys request, to plant hydrangea bushes When they dug up the earth, the gardeners found human bones buried three feet deep and had immediately informed the police A whole skeleton had quickly been uncovered, and Harry had been arrestedOn TV screen they cut between live broadcasts from Somerset and from Concord, sixty miles northwest, where Harry was in police custody Apparently a clue found close to the body strongly suggested that here were the remains of Nola Kellergan a police spokesman had already indicated that if this information was confirmed, Harry Quebert would also be named as a suspect in the murder of one Deborah Cooper, the last person to have seen Nola alive on August ,Cooper had been found murdered the same day, after calling the police It was appalling The rumble grew ever louder as the news crossed the country in real time, relayed by television, radio, the Internet, and social networks Harry Quebert, sixty seven, one of the greatest authors of the second half of the twentieth century, was a child predatorIt took me a long time to realize what was happening Several hours, perhaps Atpm when a worried Douglas came by to see how I was holding up, I was still convinced that the whole thing was a mistakeHow can they accuse him of two murders when theyre not even sure its the body of this Nola I saidWell, there was a corpse buried in his yard, however you look at itBut why would he have brought people in to dig up the place where hed supposedly buried a body It makes no sense I have to go thereGo where New Hampshire I have to defend HarryDouglas replied with that down to earth Midwestern sobriety Absolutely not, Marcus Dont go there You dont want to get involved in this messHarry called meWhen Today About one this afternoon I must have been the one telephone call he was allowed I have to go there and support him Its very importantImportant Whats important is your second book I hope you havent been taking me for a ride and that you really will have a manuscript ready by the end of the month Barnaski is shitting bricks Do you realize whats going to happen to Harry Dont get mixed up in this, Marc Dont screw up your careerOn T V the state attorney general was giving a press conference He listed the charges against Harry kidnapping and two counts of murder Harry was formally accused of having murdered Deborah Cooper and Nola Kellergan And the punishment for these crimes, taken together, was deathHarrys fall was only just beginning Footage of the preliminary hearing, which was held the next day, was broadcast on T V We saw Harry arrive in the courtroom, tracked by dozens of T V cameras and illuminated by photolighting, handcuffed, and surrounded by policemen He looked as if he had been through hell somber faced, unshaven, hair disheveled, shirt unbuttoned, eyes swollen His lawyer, Benjamin Roth, stood next to him Roth was a renowned attorney in Concord who had often advised Harry in the past I knew him slightly, having met him a few times at Goose CoveThe whole country was able to watch the hearing live as Harry pleaded not guilty, and the judge ordered him remanded into custody in New Hampshires State Prison for Men But this was only the start of the storm At that moment I still had the naive hope that it would all be over soon, but one hour after the hearing, I received a call from Benjamin RothHarry gave me your number, he said He insisted I call He wants you to know that hes innocent, that he didnt kill anybody I know hes innocent, I said Tell me how hes doing Not too great, as you can imagine The cops have been giving him a hard time He admitted to having a fling with Nola the summer she disappearedI knew about Nola What about the rest Roth hesitated a second before answering He denies it ButBut what I demandedMarcus, Im not going to hide it from you This is going to be difficult The evidence isThe evidence is what Tell me, for Gods sake This has to stay a secret No one can knowI wont say a word You can trust meAlong with the girls remains the investigators found the manuscript of The Origin of EvilWhat Im telling you, the manuscript of that damn book was buried with her Harry is in deep shitWhat does Harry say He says he wrote that book for her That she was always snooping around his home in Goose Cove, and that sometimes she would borrow his pages to read He says that a few days before she disappeared, she took the manuscript home with herWhat He wrote that book for her Yes But that cant get out, under any circumstances You can imagine the scandal thered be if the media found out that one of the bestselling books of the last fifty years is not a simple love story, like everyone thinks, but based on an illicit affair between a guy of thirty four and a girl of fifteenCan you get him released on bail Bail You dont understand how serious this is Theres no question of bail when it comes to capital crimes The punishment he risks is lethal injection Ten days from now his case will be presented to a grand jury, which will decide whether to pursue charges and hold a trial Its just a formality Theres no doubt there will be a trialAnd in the meantime Hell stay in prison But if hes innocent Thats the law Im telling youthis is a very serious situation Hes accused of murdering two peopleI slumped back on the couch I had to talk to Harry Ask him to call me I said to RothIll pass on your messageTell him I absolutely have to talk to him, and that Im waiting for his callRight after hanging up, I went to my bookshelves and found my copy of The Origin of Evil Harrys inscription was on the first page To Marcus, my most brilliant studentYour friend,H L Quebert, May I immersed myself once again in that book, which I hadnt opened in years It was a love story, mixing a straight narrative with epistolary passages, the story of a man and woman who loved each other without really being allowed to love each other So he had written this book for that mysterious girl about whom I still knew nothing I finished rereading it in the middle of the night, and contemplated the title And for the first time I wondered what it meant Why The Origin of Evil What kind of evil was Harry talking aboutTwo days passed, during which the DNA analyses and dental impressions confirmed that the skeleton discovered at Goose Cove was indeed that of Nola Kellergan The investigators were able to determine that the skeleton was that of a fifteen year old child, indicating that Nola had diedor less at the time of her disappearance But, most important, a fracture at the back of the skull provided the certainty, even afterthan thirty years, that Nola Kellergan had died from at least one blow to the headI had no news of Harry I tried to get in touch with him through the state police, through the prison, and through Roth, but without success I paced my apartment, tormented by thousands of questions, plagued by the memory of his weird call By the end of the weekend, I couldnt take it any, and I decided that I had little choice but to go to see what was happening in New Hampshire Ce texte fait r f rence l dition BrochThe book of the year Simon Mayo An expertly realised, addictive Russian doll of a whodunnit Fanny Blake Daily Mail A top class literary thriller that smoothly outclasses its rivals Melissa Katsoulis The Times Should delight any reader who has felt bereft since finishing Gone Girl, or Stieg Larsson s Millennium Trilogy Patricia Nicol Metro It s a terrific story and I m loving it Philip Schofield Mail on Sunday It s like Twin Peaks meets Atonement meets In Cold Bloodthe French thriller everyone is talking about Gaby Wood Daily Telegraph An intricate murder mystery that could be the read of the summer Sunday Times The tale is expertly told, as unreliable information dances with necessary plot shifts and unexpected moments of catastrophe An accomplished thriller James Runcie Independent Pacy, pleasingly complex and addictive Good Housekeeping Complex, intriguing and highly enjoyable Heat