Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch

After reading The Dinner, I was anxiously waiting to get my hands on a copy of this novel. I liked the author’s unique style and his way of building up to a climactic moment, when everything is laid bare. It’s a refreshingly different novel compared to what I usually read, and that was my expectation for this novel, as well.

M was once a celebrated author who wrote a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance. This novel, titled Payback, depicted the story of Jan Landzaat, a history teacher who had an affair with his student, Laura. After she ended their relationship, Jan was next seen at a holiday cottage where Laura was staying with her new boyfriend. Soon after, Jan went missing. With the publication of this novel, M’s success skyrocketed, even becoming adapted into a movie.
But that was many years ago, and M’s career is fading into obscurity. However, there is one person who is still keeping an eye on him, watching him with growing fascination and interest. And it is the one person no one could ever have imagined….

In the beginning, I was captivated by Koch’s unique narrative style and the plot itself. Finding out that the novel is written from various perspectives just added to my excitement over this story. I wanted to see where the characters would go, what their connections were, and how it would all culminate. I could just feel the impending crash when all would be explained to the reader.

And yet…. that didn’t happen. Instead, the novel began to slow down. As the story began to show its many layers, I found it harder and harder to stay sucked in. The tension had started to dissipate, and I was just left with this slowness that was extremely difficult to push through. I wanted more wit, more humor, more of a thrill. But I got none of that. Soon, I just couldn’t wait for the novel to end, and all I cared about was the one niggling question in everyone’s mind: what happened to Jan? When that was revealed, it shocked me … but only for a minute. It seemed quite bizarre in the context of the rest of the story and didn’t have the desired effect.

Overall, while I have enjoyed reading Koch’s other works, this one was a pass for me.

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

Happy  reading ~

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