Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch - Book Review

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: Once a celebrated writer, M's greatest success came with a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance. The book was called The Reckoning, and it told the story of Jan Landzaat, a history teacher who went missing one winter after his brief affair with Laura, his stunning pupil. Jan was last seen at the holiday cottage where Laura was staying with her new boyfriend. Upon publication, M.'s novel was a bestseller, one that marked his international breakthrough. That was years ago, and now M.'s career is almost over as he fades increasingly into obscurity. But not when it comes to his bizarre, seemingly timid neighbor who keeps a close eye on him. Why? From various perspectives, Herman Koch tells the dark tale of a writer in decline, a teenage couple in love, a missing teacher, and a single book that entwines all of their fates. Thanks to The Reckoning, supposedly a work of fiction, everyone seems to be linked forever, until something unexpected spins the "story" off its rails.

My Thoughts: I have read Herman Koch's previous novel, The Dinner, and really enjoyed it. As such, when I saw that I had the opportunity to read and review another of Koch's novels I jumped at it. However, I found this novel to be slow moving, boring, and overly complex. The premise of of Dear Mr. M sounded interesting and I honestly found the first 100 pages keeping my attention fairly well, but eventually multiple other story lines were introduced and the original mystery started to lose it's impact on me. 

I do give credit to Koch for his ability to improve upon, and keep, his signature writing style. I personally find it admirable and enjoyable when writers have a certain flare that you will only find when reading their novels. In Dear Mr. M, the cynicism and despicable look at human nature that seem to be staples of Koch's book were surely not missed. This was not enough to win me over this time though. The characters I found to be too uninteresting and the novel could have benefited from being about 50 pages shorter (to speed up the main plot and action). I could see how some readers would love this novel, but unfortunately it wasn't a winner for me this time. 

Additional Resources: About the Author
                                    About the Book

FTC Disclaimer: "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

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