If you’re a mystery fan looking for a quick, fun, plot-twist-filled read, you’ll l likely enjoy Herman Koch’s The Dinner, a Dutch sensation and worldwide bestseller recently translated into English.
Just don’t expect much more from the novel. Like the dinner it describes, it’s predominantly show and lacking in substance — most seriously in the way of character development.
The dilemma it portrays — parents debating what they should do about a horrific act committed by their sons — is indeed an interesting one, but, save for the unreliable narrator, we learn nothing about why any of the other characters behave in the shocking way they do.
Many reviewers have read this as a criticism of the bourgeoisie or Dutch society as a whole, in effect accepting that, yes, this is what parents who love their children would normally do.
I don’t for one second buy that, but maybe that’s just me. Let me know if you feel differently.