Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch

img_2822“Dear Mr. M,

I’d like to start by telling you that I’m doing better now. I do so because you probably have no idea that I was ever doing worse. Much worse, in fact, but I’ll get to that later on….

Yes, I have certain plans for you, Mr. M. You may think you’re alone, but as of today I’m here too…”

Sometimes I have to admit defeat when it comes to a book, and unfortunately this was one of those times. After more than halfway through Dear Mr. M, I had to step away as it was increasingly becoming a very tedious read. But perhaps the reasons I could simply not get into this novel, might be the reasons why others may enjoy it.

Mr. M is a teacher and novelist who is falling into obscurity. He had one bestselling novel many years earlier called The Reckoning, which told the story of a teacher’s disappearance after having had an affair with a student and who was last seen at a cottage where the student and her boyfriend were staying. The novel, while sold as a work of fiction, looks to have been based on real people and events, and in present day Mr. M is being watched and carefully observed by a young man. This is where the novel begins, and later switches to different perspectives from people who have been tied to events described in The Reckoning. 

This novel is complex and slow-paced. The narration at the beginning is quite compelling as the young man watching Mr. M is describing his observations, thoughts, and conclusions. It’s unsettling and sets the perfect atmosphere for a gripping psychological thriller. However, as the narrative progresses it begins to meander and the various trains of thought become increasingly more difficult to follow. There are portions of the novel that I found intriguing, and the characters themselves are interesting, but the overall density of the narrative was a little too much for me.

*E-copy provided by NetGalley for an unbiased review.

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