Newest Review: ... many of Keyes's books, including her non-fiction books. Helen is a private detective by trade, and this book centres around her search f... more
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes
Advantages: A return to form for Keyes, engaging, witty read
Disadvantages: Took a while to get going, needed a bit of an edit in parts
I have been a fan of Marian Keyes' books for a long time, but I have found that some of her later books were not as good as some of her early stuff that I have read, however I decided to give this one a go as a mystery was a bit of a departure for Keyes.
Marian Keyes has been publishing best selling books since the late nineties and has a number of novels under her belt as well as collections of journalism articles and a baking book. She has battled on and off with depression through her life, something that she writes about frankly on her website. Typically her books come under the 'chick-lit' banner, but I wouldn't let you put that off. It is a popular and lucrative genre, so you can expect some duds, but even an under par Marian Keyes is better then some trash that gets published. For me Keyes excels in this genre as she keeps the romance part as a secondary aspect of the story, allowing the book to have its own plot.
In previous books Keyes has introduced us to the Walsh sisters and The Mystery of Mercy Close features the youngest sister Helen. I have not read all of the novels in which the Walsh sisters feature, nor do I remember half of them, but I don't think this is a problem, the book can be read as a stand alone novel (although I believe there is an e-book introducing you to the family). Helen is a likeable character, down to earth and not a typical chick lit heroine. She has had her own problems with depression in the past, including an admission to a psychiatric hospital (a section which is written frankly and with pathos by Keyes, who knows what she is talking about). She is quirky and has individual tastes and a long list of things she doesn't like (also known as a 'shovel list' - people or things she would like to hit in the face with a shovel). Apart from being quite a dark person, Helen is in a relationship with Artie, a divorcee with three children, something she never thought would happen.
As the title would suggest there is a mystery element to the book. Helen is a private investigator, it is the only job she has stuck at and times are tough so she has to take a job for her ex-boyfriend Jay Parker. Jay is a bit of a ducker and diver and is now managing a has-been Irish boy-band about to do some reunion gigs in a week's time, but one of the band members has disappeared. It is Helen's job to try and find the whereabouts of the missing Wayne Diffney. I enjoyed this aspect of the book and although I had a theory of my own I did not come to any firm conclusions as to Wayne's whereabouts and did not predict the end result (although I didn't try that hard - I don't want to spoil the book for myself). Aside from the hunt for Diffney we see Helen dealing with her personal problems such as her financial situation that has meant a return to the family home, her depression and Artie's ex-wife who hasn't grasped the concept of boundaries.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. Keyes has a knack of writing a story that keeps the reader engaged. Generally the book is pacey and witty, the dialogue to the point without any waffle apart from perhaps a humorous response. It is darker than her previous books, but she can still bring a smile to your face. However, in spite of this, I did find the book took a while to get going, and felt that perhaps the early part of it could be condensed a bit further, at 536 pages it is not a quick read, or easy to shove in a bag.
Kindle edition £4.99
Summary: Worthwhile read