Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Mystery of Mercy Close -- Review

If Marian Keyes wasn't one of my favorite authors, I wouldn't have picked up this book. The title is too clunky -- The Mystery of Mercy Close. First, I don't usually read mysteries, and, second, Mercy Close sounds like some of those poetry squares put together on the refrigerator without any meaning. But I do love Marian Keyes so I got the book and finished it a day later.
A lot of times, Marian Keyes' books are considered Chick Lit. That got me thinking about the genre. Keyes' characters are funny and quirky, but they are dealing with serious situations and trying to figure out who they are. If a man wrote a similar book, he would be wise and insightful. So, I'm not going to call Keyes' book Chick Lit.
This book was about one of the Walsh sisters -- there are 5, and Keyes has written various books about the Irish sisters with each of them starring in one. You don't need to read the others though, this one stands alone.
The book begins with Helen Walsh, a private investigator, moving back home after she loses her apartment during the recession. Helen is in her early 30s, and she has a hunky boyfriend who is a father to three children. They have only been dating six months so she can't move in with him and his kids.
Here's a bit from the beginning that made me laugh with Helen explaining to her mom why she has moved home:
"I couldn't afford to pay the mortgage. You're making it sound like it's my fault. Anyway, it's more complicated than that."
"You have a boyfriend," Mum said hopefully. "Can't you live with him?"
"You've changed your tune, you rampant Catholic."
"We have to keep up with the times."
Early in the book, we begin to see hints that more than finances have turned south for Helen.
Besides, a swarm of huge black vultures was circling over the petrol pumps and they were kind of putting me off. No, I decided, I'd hang on and --
Wait a minute! Vultures?In a city?
At a petrol station?
I took a second look and they weren't vultures. Just seagulls. Ordinary Irish seagulls.
Then I thought, Ah no, not again.

We soon learn that Helen had suffered from depression three years earlier and her financial troubles send her back into depression. But this isn't simply an introspective book about depression. Helen is hired by an ex-boyfriend to help find a former boy band star who has disappeared just before the boy band reunion. Millions of dollars are at stake. The work is the only thing that helps Helen hold on.
I think Keyes, who has also suffered with depression, did a great job of relating the hopeless feelings that accompany depression, and conveying that depression isn't necessarily cause and effect -- it sometimes happens for no reason. It's a brain issue.
I did figure out where the boy band member was awhile before Helen did, but that didn't ruin my fun.
Other than the title, I thought the reason Helen hated her ex-boyfriend was a little weak. The rest of the book ran away with me.
Keyes is a wonderful writer and her characters are people I would love to run into in a bar to just while away the evening as they spin their Irish yarns.


Just Me said...

At the risk of exposing my own paradox, depression and an attraction to people with a sense of humor...this sounds like a great read.

Linda said...

I saw this in the bookstore when I was in Northern Ireland and put it on my list. I like her books-full of humor and easy to read.

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