“The Enigma of Room 622” by Joël Dicker: on the trail of a crime never resolved

More than two months after the date planned for the launch – pandemic requires -, the new novel by Joël Dicker finally comes out in bookstores. The Riddle of Room 622, a completely addictive novel, takes place in the mountains and valleys of Switzerland, winks at the banking community, plays on several levels and pays homage to its publisher, Bernard de Fallois, who died in Paris in 2018.

Joël Dicker imagined that a murder had taken place one December evening at the palace of Verbier, a prestigious hotel in the Swiss Alps, while the election of a new president of one of the most important private banks in Switzerland was taking place. . The crime was never solved.

Years later, during the summer of 2018, a successful writer decides to go on vacation to the Verbier palace, after the death of his publisher and a sentimental breakup. When he thought of resting and recharging his batteries, the young writer meets a young woman who quickly puts him on the track of the murder that happened years ago and suggests that he solve it.

Joël Dicker takes his readers to the heart of Geneva, his hometown, and to the magnificent landscapes of the Swiss Alps in this diabolical novel, as precise as a Swiss watch. It shows us a Switzerland that is not as peaceful as we imagine, against a backdrop of low blows, betrayals, jealousies, power games and love triangle.

Tribute to its publisher

Joël Dicker pays a touching tribute to his publisher, Bernard de Fallois, in the course of this excellent fifth novel, which reflects the immense talent of the author and his intelligence of heart.

“I wanted to talk about him because he was a fascinating, surprising and so extraordinary character. After he passed away, I thought to myself: Now is really the time to talk about our relationship, especially while the memories are still very much alive and vivid in my mind. “

By starting to write The Riddle of Room 622, Joël Dicker wanted, above all, to speak of Bernard de Fallois and to speak of his city, Geneva. “How to tell Bernard? In the end, I decided to talk about my relationship with him rather than his life, from 1926 to 2018. I wanted something that came from the heart, and not something that came from biographical research. “

Geneva, his city

And then came the difficulty of telling Geneva. “I live in Geneva. I want to tell, as for Bernard, a Geneva of feelings and not a Geneva of reality. For these two elements, I had this desire and this difficulty to do it in a very personal way, and it took me a little time. The best way to talk about it was to tell a fiction, because a fiction is freedom. “

It’s the first time that one of its intrigues takes place in Switzerland. “I feel like I’m living a book different from the others, because it’s Geneva, it’s my city.”

Two temporalities

The unsolved murder in a palace, as he describes it, was completely invented by the author. “I really wanted to mark a difference in rhythm and spirit in the two temporalities of the book.”

He pursues. “The temporality of fiction is a real thriller, in a palace, with an Agatha Christie side, and besides that, a whole part about Bernard, who is narrative. We come out of the novel a bit, and the part of the story was really about events as I experienced them with Bernard. There is the Joel of fiction, and the Joel of narrative. ”

♦ Joël Dicker was born in Geneva in 1985 and he still lives there.

♦ His award-winning novels have been translated in many countries.

♦ He received the Grand Prix du roman from the Académie française and the Goncourt high school student prize for The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, adapted for a TV series by Jean-Jacques Annaud and partly shot on the North Shore.

♦ He published The Book of Baltimore in 2015 and The disappearance of Stephanie Mailer in 2018.

Extract

It was 6.30 a.m. Verbier’s palace was plunged into darkness. It was still dark outside and it was snowing heavily.

On the sixth floor, the doors to the service elevator opened. A hotel employee appeared with a breakfast tray and made his way to room 622.

When he got there, he realized that the door was ajar. Light filtered through the gap. He announced himself, but got no answer. He finally took the liberty of entering, assuming that the door had been opened for him. What he discovered snapped a howl from him. He runs away to alert his colleagues and call for help. “

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