Hector and the Secrets of Love, by Francois Lelord, is one of these novels that is a lot like many other novels written these days. It has little to say and takes way too long to get it said. Ostensibly an exploration of love – what it is, what it means, how it works – by an increasingly conflicted psychiatrist, what we end up with is a rather pedestrian tale of pop psychology featuring offbeat situations that are designed, I’m sure, to be humorous and compelling but are in fact, for the most part, shallow and boring, not to mention just too cute for my taste. The writer seems self-conscious, very present, and for that reason the characters never really have a chance to convince us. It is the sort of writing that I would sum up as lazy. A somewhat similar, but much, much better novel, employing a tongue-in-cheek omniscient voice, is A Man Named Ove, by Fredrik Bachman. Every writer throws his fishing line into the same pond. Some come up with minnows, some with fantastic fish from the deep.