The Enigma of Room 622

 

I enjoyed The Harry Quebert Affair so the prospect of a mystery room in a hotel complete with intrigue and murder from the same author appealed to me. It takes the form of an author (supposedly Joel Dicker himself) staying at the aformentioned hotel where he stumbles upon a murder mystery which must be solved.

However, this aspect for me didn’t ever quite work. It seemed to me as if he never quite worked out how to juggle his sections with the retrospective telling of the actual story and in the end, it almost gave the impression of him almost adding in superfluous half-chapters at various stages at the end of the writing process having forgotten how he had set it all up. 

The book could have been redeemed if only for this but unfortunately it misfires for other reasons too. For a start, it is far too long. The build up to the murder, the victim of which we discover about four fifths of the way through, is painfully slow. Much of the detail is unnecessary and mundane. Which is a shame as the last fifth is genuinely clever and full of twists. That said the whole thing could have been far slicker and more concise and it would have lost nothing. Indeed it would have gained from the streamlining process. 

Finally, and most crucially, the writing just wasn’t very good. Now I am aware that the book is a translation from its original French. Impossible to know whether this is the problem or not but it really does read like a summary. The whole way through. The language is so simple and there is next to no description. As such it just got quite boring. 

Had this been shorter, it might have worked but ultimately, there are better books out there to spend your time reading. 

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