There is a wall! In nearly all fiction novels there is a distinct wall between the story and the writer – the latter remains well hidden and remote from the book. However, in The Enigma of Room 622, the first book I read in 2023, the author smashes through this concept and becomes one of the main protagonists. With daring and excellent writing Joël Dicker breaks down the infamous fourth wall within acting (and by extension in writing) and directly addresses the reader while at the same time becoming one of the key characters.

I started reading this beautiful book gifted to me for Christmas without scanning the inner dust jacket information, without perusing its back cover. Sometimes I just want to be surprised and wow, this book achieved that in abundance!

After a couple of pages, I found myself doing a double-take! Was the writer’s name really the same as the initial character? Were they both the same writers? The answer was an unequivocal yes!

A careful reading of the blurb showed I was right and I was thrilled! Could Joël Dicker carry this off and retain it throughout the whole book as he investigated the mystery and interviewed people along the way? Could he slowly unravel the story in the first person perspective while at the same time creating a full-fledged novel of 563 pages in the third person? Absolutely!

The Enigma of Room 622 is a multi-layered novel that begins with a very simple set-up.

A famous writer, recently broken up with his girlfriend, leaves for a break at Hotel de Verbier in Switzerland. He finds himself in room 621a. The scene is set—what happened to room 622? A mysterious unsolved murder it turns out and his recent friend and aspiring writer Scarlett urges him to investigate the story. She believes this can help him recover from his girlfriend woes, and the writer’s sorrow following the death of his mentor/publisher. In the process, she hopes this will help Joel create his next global blockbuster.

Quickly the novel develops into a partial thriller involving a Swiss international bank, as well as espionage, plus a murder mystery and also tilts towards romance in the form of the trickiest and pivotal of love triangles.

The plot line reminds me of an intricate Venn diagram with various engaging storylines on the periphery which intersect throughout the book. Furthermore, the author interweaves a multitude of characters and plots across thirty-five years with a deft seamless touch that has the reader hooked throughout!

Macaire Ebezner is a president in waiting to the largest private Swiss bank and he is married to the stunning Anastasia, supposedly part of a Russian dynasty. As well as a banker (a role that honestly rather seems to bore him) Macaire enjoys the excitement of working as a spy for the Swiss secret service to aid the county.

Macaire’s presidency is in doubt however when he learns that the board plan to vote in Lev Levotich instead. The plot thickens and the history of Lev’s lowly actor father is introduced in detail as is Lev’s surprising rise to banking success! The two men are tied together not only through banking but through their love of the same woman.

This is only the bare outlines of an intricate suspenseful novel with a plenitude of extraordinary characters and their lives. There are twists galore until the most astonishing and unexpected ending!

The imagination and skill of Joël Dicker in creating this tour de force novel are extraordinary. It is one I can highly recommend.

About Joël Dicker:

Joël Dicker was born in 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland, where he studied law. He spent childhood summers in New England, particularly in Stonington and Bar Harbor, Maine. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair won three French literary prizes, including the Grand Prix du Roman from the Académie Française, and was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt. It was later adapted for television starring Patrick Dempsey. The Baltimore Boys, at once a prequel and a sequel, was published in English translation in 2017, followed by The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer in 2021. The Enigma of Room 622, his first novel to be set in his native Switzerland, has sold more than a million copies in France. Dicker lives in Geneva.

79 thoughts on “THE ENIGMA OF ROOM 622: A BOOK REVIEW

  1. Oh wow! The concept of this book sounds amazing, Annika. I will add it to my to-read list. I think that’s so cool that the author put himself into the book as a character. Great review.

    1. Exactly, Christy! It was a unique idea by the author to put himself into the novel and it works brilliantly! There were so many aspects of the book to enjoy and glad this is one you may read some time! Hope you’re keeping well!

    1. Smitha, thank you so much and glad you’re intrigued! I realise I’ve never read ‘The Silent Patient’ and I appreciate you mentioning it – having read the blurb I’m hooked and will read this sometime!

  2. This sounds like a suspenseful and page turning book, Annika. Thank you for sharing snippets of it. I like how you jumped right into the book without reading the blurb and have no knowledge of it, letting the book surprise you and not judging it by its cover 😄 Having engaging and multiple storylines in a book can certainly make it all the more interesting, especially when it involves multiple characters too – it keeps you wondering who will do what next and keeps you guessing on how it is all connected together. Hope you are doing well 😊

    1. Mabel, thank you so much for your great comment! I wonder if I won’t read the blurbs more often in future to avoid the confusing surprise. The writer writes with great authority and clarity and I am in awe of how he managed to control all the various threads of the story while weaving to the final totally unexpected conclusion!

    1. Ellora, thank you for your comment and great that this was your favourite book for 2022 – I haven’t met many who have heard of it no matter read it! It’s interesting to see your comment about the female characters in the book – I didn’t find them flat per see but rather just too few – as probably and sadly reflecting the make-up of the banking (and many other) industry!

  3. Congratulations to Joel on this very intriguing book Annika. You really did a great job drawing us into the story and the twists and turns he so brilliantly created for a wonderful mysterious read. Great review!!! 👏👏👏❣️

    1. Cindy, thank you so much for your terrific comment – it is wonderful that you enjoyed my review and were drawn into the mysterious unique book! I must admit it was tricky to review as it was so multilayered on all levels but brilliantly so! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend and Happy Reading! 📚😃🌻

  4. Dear Annika
    we love all the Joël Dicker Texts and especially this one because of its sophisticated structure. We like post-modern novels which are different, not mainstream.
    Thank you very much for this little review.
    Keep well
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Klausbernd, it’s great you have read all his books and yes, the sophisticated structure of this one stood out to me! It is an ambitious novel and the author succeeds brilliantly. Although I have read and studied quite a bit about post-modern art I have never really read about post-modern books as such. Although not mainstream Joël Dicker enjoys huge success, especially with ‘The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair’ which I read a few years ago. I am grateful to the person who gifted me The Engima of Room 622 – they know my book tastes very well!

      1. Hi Annika,
        I like post-modern novels because most of them show that they are fiction. They don’t pretend being a direct copy of reality except the reality of literature. This making the reader to identify in the Hollywood-way is boring. Producing a distance instead of identifying I find interesting. This all started with the V- or alienation effect of B. Brecht.
        Anyway, we all really like your review.
        Keep happy and healthy
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. This is such an unusual plot line and filled with intriguing characters. Also, the fact that it spans 35 years is admirable. Thanks, Annika, for your enticing review. It seems like there is lots to analyze in the style of writing and especially the fact that the author is a character in the book. Quite unique.

    1. Carol, the book was so unusual and hence one of the trickiest to review. I’m glad you found it enticing and you pick up on all the elements that make it such a unique book – one I will continue to rave about during the year, I am sure! As a writer, it is always rewarding to see different ways to approach a book and to spark ideas to use in one’s own work. I am in awe of books that stretch across such lengths of time while weaving in and out of characters and storylines! I’d like to see Joel’s storyboard! 😀

    1. Lauren, thank you so much and it’s great that my review has sparked your interest in The Engima of Room 622! If you have a chance to read it I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Happy Reading, my friend! ❤️

      Btw. How could I not heed your gentlest of nudges and I’ve just bought your ‘More Than Coffee’ and look forward to reading and reviewing this soon. hugs xx

      1. You’re very welcome, Annika. I’ve got a few books lined up to read and this book is one of them. If only time would be more accommodating. 🙂 And you made me smile about the nudge. I truly hoped not to sound pushy at all, but many of our mutual friends have enjoyed my book, so I thought you would too. But absolutely no pressure! If you do get the chance, I really hope you enjoy the memories. Many hugs, dear friend xoxo

    1. Exactly, Lori! 😀 It is a terrific title and the enigma draws one in before even reading another word! It doesn’t disappoint! The plot is so intricate and intertwined that I could only give the barest hint of it here – but glad it has intrigued you!

    1. Aww … thank you so much, Jennifer! 😀 I’m finding that I am mixing up my reading a lot more these days and it is hugely rewarding and enjoyable! Hope you have some great books to start the year! xx

  6. HI Annika, thank you for your fascinating review. The style of writing of this book interests me a lot more than the plot, I’m not much of a mystery reader. It sounds very innovative and I think I’ll look for this book on Amazon. I hope everything is going well with you and your family. Hugs.

    1. Robbie, the original and innovative writing style is what definitely took hold of my imagination in the first place and then I was drawn into the various storylines and characters. So far this is very expensive on Amazon Kindle but I hope you have a chance to check it out sometime. Hugs xx

    1. Thank you, Debby!😀 Some of the promotional reviews compared the author’s work to Agatha Christie but having read most of her books I wouldn’t agree. However, maybe there is some similarity to the Hitchcock book but I think Dicker then takes this to a new level! Xx

  7. Sounds quite interesting, Annika, especially as you present it. I’m not sure I would read a 500 page book without reading the cover jacket, however. 🙂 Hope 2023 finds you well. –Curt

    1. Curt, I think I’ve learnt my lesson now and will read the jacket back cover next time! 😀 I’m glad you like my presentation – a complex book to review and summarise. It’s lovely to hear from you and hope you’re having a great start to 2023!

    1. Rosaliene, I was expecting a pure murder mystery and that would have been okay – the twists and turns in events and characters, into so many other genres really lifted the book to that extra special and unusual! Enjoy if you have a chance to read it!

  8. This does sound like an interesting book, Annika! As a veteran writing rule quibbler, I’m thinking it’s proof that there really are no rules for creative writing beyond those of basic grammar. Thanks for this review!

    1. Exactly, Audrey! 😀 Breaking the rules in writing can lead to very inventive and creative stories but I totally agree, the basic grammar has to be in place. Some try too hard without even this in place and they are barely readable as the grammar is barely in existence!

  9. Ahh…, Annika, what a great and intelligent review. I am pulled in and felt I want to read this book. Your writing is strong and fluid and the book comes alive before I read it.
    The title of the book is great, how can you not want to hear more.


    1. Miriam, thank you so much for your wonderful comment about my review! 😀 It is great that it has pulled you into the book and brought it alive for you. I felt as if I lived through large parts of the story and it is as if I’d seen an epic film. Oh yes, the title is fabulous and of course, one wants to learn much more about the enigma and it is one that is exponentially enthralling. Hope you’re having a great reading start to the year! xx

  10. What a fun and imaginative way to write a book! I’m more than intrigued by this concept, Annika. Thank you for introducing me to this author and for such a fabulous review! I’m off to check it out!

    1. Thank you so much, Jan! 😃 This has to be one of the more complex book I’ve reviewed as there were so many interwoven critical elements and characters within it. As usual I just wanted to do it justice. I also thought it must have been a lot of fun to write – as well as stressful to keep everything accurate! Enjoy checking it out!

  11. Your passion for this book is very fun Annika. It sounds very creative, complex, and engaging. Reading a book without knowing the premise can be a fun surprise or a big letdown. It’s gone both ways for me recently!

    1. Brad, it does feel a bit rough when one has tried with a book and it just doesn’t work its magic! I used to persevere when I was in doubt but now treasure my reading time more and will usually stop reading the book. Luckily this book was a wonderful and exciting pick for me – complex but not overwhelmingly so once one has remembered to check the timeline of each chapter!

  12. This book sounds so unusual and completely fresh, Annika. What an amazingly clever idea. It sounds like a fictional “memoir” murder mystery. Lol. I love that idea. I often don’t read the back covers because I also enjoy being surprised. I’m so glad you enjoyed the read and thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Precisely and for a short while I thought maybe it was a memoir!😀 Such a clever idea with such sharp writing and complex characters – I am in awe of the writer juggling all these elements over the long time span. While I loved the book I can understand that this book is not for everyone – the size alone requires commitment!

      It’s only recently that I’ve started to dive straight into a book and enjoy those surprises! With books like this though I might read the back cover more thoroughly before I start! 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Jo! As always I worry about doing justice to a book that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and want to share about it enough to be tempting but without spoilers. Rather a tricky one with regard to the latter point! ❤️

  13. Oh, wow! I can feel the excitement in your splendid review. 🙂 The book certainly sounds like an enthralling read, and the setting interests me a lot. Thank you for taking time to review it…xx

    1. Khaya, you’re right about my excitement about the book and one I’ve been raving on about to my family! 😀 I made sure not to give them or anyone here spoilers about the astonishing and superb ending. A most enthralling read and yes, the setting is wonderful. I spent a week interrailing in Switzerland as a teenager while staying with a family and love the area. Have you visited the country? Happy Reading … and btw your book has arrived! Look forward to savouring your poetry, my friend! xx

      1. I thought I was going to add this book later to my TBR list, so that I’m not tempted to read it before my planned reads for January & February. But with your sweet memories of interrailing`, how can I resist it! 😀 No, I haven’t been to Switzerland yet. But it’s been on my list. That’s why I’m intrigued by the setting.

        YAY that my book has reached you!! Thanks once again for your support, my friend. ❤

    1. Hi Neil, I wonder if his books are more know abroad than in the UK and US? I have a feeling it is a writer who will become increasingly known in the English translations and hope you have a chance to take a look at the book! It requires commitment but well worth it!

    1. Jill, I found it terrific but can imagine that it will divide opinion! It’s a long novel but hugely rewarding and the the ending came out of the blue! Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday! xx

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