Review of ‘The Mystery of Henri Pick’ by David Foenkinos

A quirky contemporary novel about literature and relationships, the book is not in the mystery genre, although it does have a mystery around a deceased author, Henri Pick. An editor discovers an unpublished manuscript in a small public library in a French town. She publishes it and starts a media frenzy as everyone loves the book but not everyone believes that Henri is the real author, as he was a pizza chef without apparent literary pretensions. The story explores how the publication of this book affects several characters.

Book cover, showing a graphic of a typewriter.

I quite liked this read. There are a lot of references to great literature (or rather, what the establishment considers great) which can be off-putting if you don’t know or like those books. It’s an intriguing story with a good twist at the end and interesting characters. One aspect of the writing style was terribly annoying, however. In conversation, a character would often say ‘…’ (i.e. nothing). I would rather read a description of that character’s gestures or expressions which could indicate why they’re lost for words.

First published as Le Mystère Henri Pick, 2016. This edition translated from French by Sam Taylor and published by Pushkin Press as part of the Walter Presents series, 2020. A film adaptation was released in 2019.

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