14 September 2012

Book Review: The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

"Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear - it's just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good jobs - 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 and Jay is awash with cash, so Helen is forced to take on the task of finding Wayne Diffney, the 'Wacky One' from boyband Laddz.

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. 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."

Rating: 3/5

Marian Keyes' latest book has been a long time coming for many of her fans, and it's another installment in the Walsh family novels. Now, the only one in the Walsh novels I have read is Watermelon, which also happens to have been Marian's first ever book which I really enjoyed (and probably should have read the rest of the saga). My next Marian book was 'This Charming Man' which was a bit of a strange one for me, and then followed this up with The Brightest Star in the Sky, another odd book which I found strange, and not completely to my tastes. I was hoping that with a return to the Walshes, I'd find a more "normal" novel (for want of a better word) but I'm not entirely sure that's what I got...

Helen Walsh is a Private Investigator, and a fairly good one at that. She's been working for many years, but what with the recession, she's finding it hard to make ends meet as work starts to dry up more and more. Not only that, but Helen is contending with a never-ending depression, one which makes her have suicidal thoughts and feelings, and she doesn't know where to turn. When she's offered a lucrative job as a PI to search for a missing popstar, Wayne, part of man-band Laddz, she decides to take it and find him once and for all. But where is Wayne, and what mystery of Mercy Close is lying behind Wayne's front door? Also, is Helen going to be able to battle her depression and work on probably her most important job to date?

I'll be honest and say I did struggle with this book at times, and really had to give myself a kick up the bum to pick it up and carry on ploughing through it. It's a big old hardback book, and at 500 pages, it isn't short either, and at times feels like it is going to go on for a while. Helen was quite a dislikeable character for the most part, for me anyway. She narrates the book in the first person, so we can really try and get into her head, and I just found her hard to like. She's quite selfish in a way, money-oriented, and tends to feel sorry for herself in so many ways. I found her to be quite horrible to her own family as well, having strange relationships with those around her, even her boyfriend Artie, and ex-boyfriend Jay, who happens to be manager of Laddz. There are parts where she made me smile, parts where she made me feel very sorry for her but in the other parts, she just wasn't a character for me!

I do have to praise Marian on the way she writes the storyline of Helen's depression, something Marian herself has a lot of experience of, and it shows in her writing of this story arc. She uses names of prescription medicines, details about treatments, doctors and it feels very realistic as you're reading it. I felt incredibly sorry for Helen, she really struggles with her problems, and her family almost seem a bit dismissive of it at times, and she doesn't seem to reveal how bad things get to others in her life - she seems a lonely kind of person. The part of the story which I did like a lot was the mystery of Mercy Close - where pop star Wayne was, why he'd disappeared, and Helen's hunt for him. It was great to read, fast paced and lots going on, throwing you in wrong directions and it entertained me - and I didn't guess how it ended up either.

However, as I mentioned already, I felt the book was really too long for me, and there were parts of it which I found went on and on, and I could have skipped without missing too much of the story. Helen wasn't a likeable lead character, and considering that the point is told entirely by her, that meant it affected my enjoyment of the book overall which was a shame. The arc of Helen's job as a PI and her "mission" in this book was the enjoyable part and I really thought Keyes had done a great job of this. The Walsh family all get name-checked in this book, although they are barely a passing mention in most cases, except for Claire, which I was surprised about. Die-hard Marian fans will love this, and I'm sure will love seeing the long-anticipated final Walsh sister novel, but for me, it wasn't really my cup of tea and it's a shame I couldn't enjoy it more.

You can buy The Mystery of Mercy Close as a hardback or an eBook now.


  1. You really should check out her book Rachel's Holiday. It's my favourite of hers and one of my favourite books ever.

  2. I'm reading this atm. Bit disappointing. I LOVE Helen. In the other Walsh novels she is indeed selfish, tactless etc BUT she's quite charming and funny enough to get away with it. Marian is my all time favourite authour and one of the few who is genuinely funny but I don't think she could carry the Helen from the previous books all the way through a 500+ page novel. On saying that I haven't finished yet.

  3. I loved this book. It's not an easy read, but I've been suffering from depression recently, and this book made me feel more hopeful, as it was like I was reading my own thoughts and feelings back at me. I know it's a work of fiction, but I know Marian Keyes has suffered from depression, and some of this is lifted straight out of her article in the Daily Mail on her experience. This book went some way to making me seek help, and because of that I will be forever grateful to Marian for writing it