Author Joël Dicker finds himself unwillingly unravelling the mystery behind the curiously missing Room 622 at the Hôtel de Verbier in the Swiss Alps, where he is attempting to recover from a breakup and the recent death of his long-time friend and publisher Bernard de Fallois. Joël and his ‘assistant’ Scarlett uncover a complicated sequence of events that begins at the Ebezner Bank, the largest private bank in Switzerland, and ends in a murder at Verbier.
The book jumps around multiple points in the timeline (which is a little jarring occasionally) weaving an extremely detailed picture of the events that culminated in the murder: Macaire Ebezner’s fight to claim the presidency of the bank, the affair that consumes the mysterious Lev Levovitch, the shady workings of the government agency P-30, Sinior Tarnogol’s underhanded dealings, and…
To be fair, there are a few too many plot elements in the 600 odd pages of this book, some of which are confusing and almost farfetched until you start to slot the whole puzzle together. Though it does get a bit hard to keep track, the events are engaging, and you’re drawn into the action. Definitely a Russian doll of mystery, as the blurb promises. The only lacklustre parts of the book are the sections on Joël and Scarlett solving the mystery. Joël Dicker as a character in his book does not inspire any feeling.
The true genius though is Chris Harper, the narrator of the audiobook. This is only the second audiobook I’ve ever picked up, but I have to say he did an excellent job. The first two hours or so were slow and boring, and it is solely his narrative quality that pushed me to stick with the book.
My most significant takeaway is that if I had read The Enigma of Room 622 as an eBook or a paperback, I am positive I would not have been as impressed with it. I would have probably sped through the book, the twists and revelations making only a faint impression on me. However, I listened to the audiobook in snatches over a period of a few weeks, and it slowly started to feel like a friend was telling me a story. Because the audiobook forces you to go slow, I was genuinely invested in the characters and consequently enjoyed the story better. I still recall certain moments when I reacted audibly to the story, and that’s purely thanks to the narration. My partner was highly amused when I paused midway rinsing a dish and let out a very loud “WHAT!” two-thirds of the way into the book.
This book is for those who love a good mystery with twists upon twists upon twists or who enjoy rereading a book in hopes of spotting all the clues the author left hinting at the ending. And of course, I wholeheartedly recommend the audiobook for a better experience.
Thank you NetGalley, Quercus Audio, and MacLehose Press for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.