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Keyes at her best
The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes
Member Name: Doglovers
The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes
Advantages: Pacy, funny , sad, mysterious and very likeable characters
Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors. Whilst I have liked some books more than others, she never disappoints and it is testament to her that I can pick up one of her books and read it again years later and still enjoy the story.
I bought this from Waterstones in hardback while I was on holiday and paid £9.99 for my copy as I could not wait for the paperback.
I was quite surprised to see a new offering as I had seen various things in the press about the crippling debilitating depression she was suffering. However she has clearly drawn on her own personal experience and used it to great effect in Helen the main character in this book.
If you have read other books by Keyes you will recognise the Walsh sisters, Helen being the fifth and last one. It doesn't really matter if you haven't read any of the earlier books about the family, as I have but can't recall them so this book I feel stands alone.
The book starts when Helen is in a bad place , she is a Private Investigator but work is thin on the ground, her flat has just been repossessed and she has no choice but to move back home to her parents. She is in a relationship with a lovely man, but he comes with baggage including an ex-wife who seems to spend more time at his home than Helen does and various children who love or loathe her.
As the story starts an ex-boyfriend makes an unwelcome appearance with an offer of work that sets Helen off on the trail of a missing boy band member who is due to play a very lucrative reunion gig.
What makes life most difficult for Helen is the battle with depression she faces on a daily basis, sometimes so bad she contemplates and prepares for suicide.
Helen is a really well drawn character, independent, outspoken and quirky with a wicked sense of humour, so although dealing with her depression, the author still manages to inject a lot of humour in the book.
This feels like one of Keyes most personal books and drawing on her own experience she describes the reality of living with depression in detail. The book is really well written and very moving in parts and you really get to see how desperate Helen feels. She is in a very dark place and is constantly battling the urge to end it all.
The job proves to be something that keeps her busy and I felt her somewhat unique methods of investigation really worked.
The part that I didn't feel was as well drawn is Helens relationship with Artie her boyfriend, probably because you don't get to know what he thinks about Helen's battle with depression.
The Walsh family are certainly characters and Helen's parents and various sisters crop up throughout the book and you get the sense of family pulling together, but also that each family member has their own issues. Her parents don't exactly welcome her home with open arms, quite the opposite in fact and wonder when they will get their 'Golden Years' but not being all sweetness and light makes her parents all the more interesting characters.
The search for the missing boy band member is full of twists and turns and a real mystery . As Helen delves into his life, he starts to feel like a real person and you start to really want Helen to suceed in finding him. Helen is given access to his home and takes a lot of comfort in spending time there alone.
FYI - I am not a fan of boy bands, so don't be put off by this theme as this is a cracking mystery that leaves you guessing until the end. It is also a very honest and revealing book about what it is like living with depression. Keyes often has a very serious theme running through her books, but still manages to deliver some cracking one liners that will make you laugh out loud.
Keyes writing style flows well and I can really relate to the quirky observational style she adopts. She always manages to create characters that have issues and flaws but are still genuinely likeable. Very much like the author, who I have seen a few times providing very entertaining commentary on things like Strictly and The Apprentice. She always comes across as a sparkly witty Irish woman, tongue firmly in cheek, so it is hard to reconcile that image with someone who could barely get out of bed or feel motivated to do anything.
As you may have guessed I absolutely loved reading this book, the first in a long time that I didn't want to put down and the only one I brought back from holiday. I could not guess where it was going and I really enjoyed the combination of mystery, comedy and woman on the edge, which I think is quite difficult to pull off.
What you get is a real sense of is that depression can touch anyone's life and whilst Helen doesn't have it all in terms of money and home , she is surrounded by people that love her ( even if they don't want to live with her) but that isn't really that relevant when battling depression.
The writing styles is easy , the book moves at quite a pace and it managed to make me laugh, care very much about Helen and the missing boy band member but also gave me a deeper understanding of depression. I also loved the parts about the band , particularly their rehearsal and Helens reactions to the costumes and stage set, where Keyes clearly shows the sometime ridiculous lengths bands go to when making a comeback.
Her best book to date.
Currently on sale form Amazon for £9 in hardback .
Summary: I did not want it to end.