Ending my reading for this month with an enigmatic audiobook.
The Enigma Of Room 622
Translated by Roberto Bononno
It all starts with an innocuous curiosity: at the Hotel Verbier, a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps, there is no Room 622.
This anomaly piques the interest of the writer Joël Dicker, Switzerland’s most famous literary star, who is staying at the hotel to recover from a bad breakup, mourn the death of his longtime publisher, and begin his next novel. Before he knows it, Joël is coaxed out of his torpor by a fellow guest – Scarlett, a captivating aspiring novelist with a nose for intrigue, who swiftly uncovers the reason behind Room 622’s deliberate erasure: an unsolved murder.
Meanwhile, in the wake of his father’s passing, Macaire Ebezner is set to take over as president of the largest private bank in Switzerland. The succession captivates the news media, and the future looks bright, until Macaire learns that the bank’s board plan to appoint one Lev Levovitch - Geneva’s very own Jay Gatsby - in his place. What seemed a race to the top has just become a race against time . . .
A Russian doll of a mystery crafted with the precision of a Swiss watch, The Enigma of Room 622 is a diabolically addictive thriller in which a love triangle and a power struggle – fuelled by envy and betrayal - play out between Geneva and the Alps, as the truth twists and turns into something no reader will see coming.
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If I’m honest I’m not sure where to start with this book, I was initially drawn to The Enigma Of Room 622 by its cover and then when I read the blurb I thought I had better give it a try. It took me longer than it probably should have to realise that the author had written himself as a character, whilst he is obviously well known to others I hadn’t come across him before, which made the start of the book a little jarring but once I cottoned on it wasn’t quite as bad.
I thought it was quite funny, after a while, that he was a character in the book, certainly a first for me and interesting to see how Joël and Scarlett piece together parts of the story, as we the reader get to see how things happened from the perspectives of the characters. There were quite a lot of characters to keep a track of in this story but luckily Chris Harper did a marvellous job of narrating and creating the different voices for them, so they each stood out in their own way.
This is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, it takes a while to unfold but my interest was piqued when I discovered that the mystery involved a lot of people whose lives overlapped in strange ways, which is what kept me engaged. The story jumps back and forth in the timeline of three characters Macaire – who is hoping to take over his father’s position as President of their bank, Anastasia – Macaire’s wife, and Lev – who is being tipped to take over as President for the bank.
I did really enjoy getting to know these characters and where they came from and the circumstances that lead to the murder but I have to say at times I did struggle with which part of the timeline I was supposed to be in. There was a lot of jumping about and I couldn’t always figure out quickly enough what point of the story I was in, because as I mentioned there are a lot of entwined threads between them so it wasn’t always obvious.
The first part of the book is mostly dedicated to the story leading up to the discovery of a body and in this time as we get to know the players in the game, the question is who was murdered. After that, the question becomes who did it and why, and at this point the pacing changes I felt like I was hooked to every word and felt a lot more tension in the story. This was only bettered by the many twists this story started to take, it went down a path I would not have imagined and I was pretty impressed that I was able to be so caught off guard.
However, I have to say that after the first couple of big surprises there were even more that kept cropping up, and instead of helping to clarify what happened, they added more questions. I felt like there were a lot of previous encounters in the story that I was second guessing and I started to feel that the big reveal was getting pushed a little too far if it comes to a point where I feel I might have to break out some post it’s just to try and keep track of what is happening it is no longer clever but convoluted.
I did enjoy the sections of the book in which the author reminisces about his late publisher Bernard, who is also a real person. The stories were really interesting and added a touch of warmth to the book, I am not sure I understand the relevance of them in this particular story but it was fun to read about.
You definitely need your wits about you to follow along with The Enigma of Room 622, and whilst it maybe could have used a slight scaling back, it was an enjoyable read that took me by surprise.