The Mystery of Henry Pick by David Foenkinos
How could a virtually illiterate pizza chef have produced a literary and publishing bestseller without anyone, including his family knowing it? A young editor of a large French publisher and her writer lover dig into this conundrum with satisfyingly surprising results.
This delightful mystery, translated from the French, is a feast for any lover of books and to booksellers and those in the trade especially. The translation is facile, providing a smooth read with plenty of what this reader takes to be genuine French/European flavor. A treat for the literary palate, as it were. It is in many ways a classic whodunit, leaving the question of what really happened to the very last pages honoring the accustomed form. The ending will surely surprise the lucky reader.
A young editor of a French publishing house and her writer lover are visiting an unusual library in Brittany: a repository of unpublished manuscripts created by a reclusive librarian who was fraught with his own demons. There they discover The Last Hours of a Love Affair by Henri Pick. Eager to learn more, and to eventually publish this undiscovered gem, they find that the author was a lifelong pizza chef and never wrote a word or read a book according to accounts given them by his wife and daughter. How did he manage to produce this masterpiece without anyone knowing it and why did he consign it to the graveyard of books in his rural town? The hunt for answers begins.
By turns bleak, funny, mysterious and romantic, the narrative is compelling for the usual reasons: how did this happen, and how will it be resolved? Skillfully composed with brisk pacing and plenty of detail to flesh out the characters and their motivations, it fulfills the promise of a murder mystery without a murder. Readers of crime fiction, literary fiction, works in translation and just plain good stories will find this one a pleasure.