Review published on September 28, 2016.
Mr M is being watched. As a famous writer, he is no stranger to the limelight, although interest in his work has been dwindling of late. Our narrator clearly takes a keen interest in Mr M’s work and, indeed, in every aspect of his life. What exactly are his intentions?
This book is a little strange. At first, it appears to be a straightforward stalker-related mystery involving someone with a grudge against a famous writer who is living downstairs from that writer and stalking him.
Mr M wrote a successful novel based on the real-life murder of a high school teacher by two of his students. The narrative switches between the present day and the time when the stalker was a teenager and the murder allegedly took place. However, the author writes the story as he sees fit and not necessarily as the actual events unfolded.
This is a complex and somewhat dark story. Parts of the book are, frankly, boring and most of the characters are shallow and unlikeable, both as young people and in later life. There are lots of plot twists, mystery and suspense, and the book has an unusual structure. However, it will certainly keep readers on their toes as they try to piece together the plot. In my opinion, Herman Koch does a great job of building up the suspense and weaving together the multiple layers of the story. Happily, there is a surprise ending that comes totally out of the blue.
Dear Mr M has all the ingredients of a good story, but I think perhaps the author tries to intrigue the reader just a little too much and the result is rather confusing.
Dorothy Flaxman 3/2
Dear Mr M by Herman Koch
Picador 9781447294696 hbk Aug 2016