The Enigma of Room 622

HarperVia. Sept. 2022. 562p. tr. from French by Robert Bononno. ISBN 9780063098817. $29.99. M
Nearly a decade ago, Dicker took the international literary community by storm with The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, a clever, out-of-nowhere hit. The author’s “overnight” success and status as an in-demand thriller writer looking for material for his next book forms the basis for this metafictional novel. He finds inspiration in a story of financiers jockeying for position as president of a prestigious Geneva bank and their connection to a murder in a hotel room. Macaire Ebezner, the would-be heir to his family’s banking empire, sold his shares 15 years ago, presumably losing his father’s trust in the process, and now has to rely on a series of dubious schemes and shady alliances to ensure his ascension to the throne. These details are discovered and narrated by a writer named Joël, who is still mourning the death of the publisher who helped turn Harry Quebert into a sensation, and his assistant Scarlett. This layering of truth onto fiction promises depth, but it’s not clear what this adds to the central mystery of the victim in Room 622 and who killed him, beyond an inflated page count.
VERDICT Twists abound in this elaborate mystery, but readers will have to power through clichéd dialogue, jarring time shifts, and thin characterization to enjoy them.
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