Author: Herman Koch
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewer: Jessica Higgins
If you like to think while you read, you will love this book!
Mr. M is an elderly Dutch author who has written many books in his lifetime, but none have lived up to the hype of his early novel Payback. Written based on a factual account of a young teacher who coerced a young female student into a relationship. When she ended the relationship, he couldn’t fathom why she left him for the student he did and become obsessed with her. When the teacher and two students end up in a deserted vacation home during Christmas vacation, the teacher ends up disappearing without a trace, bringing the two students under suspicion of murder, but no conviction is ever made. People loved the book and even a movie was made from it. But someone from the story surfaces and begins writing to the author. The notes aren’t particularly amusing and could even be considered threatening. What if dear Mr. M got it all wrong?
This has definitely been one of the more thought provoking reads of the year! Told from five different viewpoints throughout the story with little to no warning of who is suddenly taking over the narration. It also switches between past and present without warning when changing sections of the book, so be warned. However, Koch is a master story teller as I had no idea the full story until I read the whole story. I was making conjectures throughout, but something always felt off. Something didn’t quite make sense until the last few pages put it all into perspective. The entire book makes it seem as though Mr. M is this washed up little talent author with the exception of two books: Payback which the book is centered on and then one about his ex-wife leaving him. But maybe this old dog of an author isn’t all that unintelligent.
The story is primary a narration being told to the reader. There is some dialogue in a few parts that takes place here and there, so it can be a little difficult to follow at times. There was some adult content included, both in harsh language and in implied sexual content. The book is mostly set in the Amsterdam area, which I admit to having little to no geographical knowledge of prior to this book, which is always fun to help expand my horizons. Overall an interesting read, but recommended for mature audiences due to the language and sexual content.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.