Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Mystery Of Mercy Close: A Walsh Sister Novel by Marian Keyes

5 Star

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.

Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.

Kathryn - 5 Star

This installment about the Walsh Sisters has been long- awaited (not that I haven’t enjoyed every novel Keyes has put out since the last Walsh Sister novel!) but I’ve been hoping we were going to get another in-depth peek into one of the siblings.  The last one I read personally was Rachel’s Holiday which looked at Rachel’s substance abuse issues.  Keyes is a wonderful story teller and can weave heart breaking issues into a novel with compassion and laughter so I was intrigued instantly about The Mystery of Mercy Close being focussed on Helen, a little bit of a dark horse from the previous books.

The plot surrounding Helen’s personal struggle is light and slightly off-the-wall and so the voice of Helen is a stark contrast to the quirky storyline.  I was a teeny- tiny bit bored by the plot itself unfortunately as I found it took a long time to get going (although the characters were in themselves interesting). The fact that I found Helen intriguing was certainly the crux of the book.  At this point in her life she appears to be so in control in  many respects but suffering financially sends her into a state of depression that she’d struggled to put behind her once before. The fact that she’d already experienced depression made it much more interesting for the reader as we got her thoughts from a place of knowledge rather than of abject fear of what was happening to her.  I loved that Keyes clearly spelled out that no one person can just pull someone back out of depression- that sometimes it takes someone unknown or unlikely to help a person who is suffering and that sometimes in can even take years of trying different things to reach a solution. 

I’ve got be honest that this book does indeed read differently from other Keyes’ novels- not at first, but definitely once I got into the story, and I think I appreciated Helen’s thought processes more because it truly felt like they were being fuelled by someone real. I have no basis of comparison personally for depression and of course I don’t know if Keyes own biography slipped occasionally into Helen’s but I truly felt the honesty in her writing.  I know some people may feel that the writing seemed detached but that to me was Helen’s voice and not a reflection of Keyes’ own skill.

While the subject matter is difficult, I think Keyes once again has made education in a difficult subject seem natural, and the Walsh Sisters will always be favourites of mine.

Thank you to Viking for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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